A quick and easy vegetarian dish incorporating Thai yellow curry spices and fragrant coconut rice together with fresh seasonal vegetables and herbs.
August is breathing hot and sticky on my neck behind me, reminding me of all that needs to be accomplished within just 30 short days.
Salmon-colored post-it notes are strewn across the surface of my workspace, their notes marking everything from daily to-do lists left unfinished, annotations on the redesign of this site that was put off to accommodate a summer of weddings, photos in need of edits, recipes jotted down and notes on changes made during the testing process, checks signed and not deposited from my brand new brother-in-law. My empty coffee cup still sits to the side, the last drops of sludge now dried in ring-like patterns on the bottom.
As summer winds to a close, albeit a lengthy winding before the school bell rings again, the quickening of breath can be felt, grasping at the last lazy days. Perhaps it is the desire to “get it all in” before the end that has us inviting as many dinners as we can muster from now to never.
Whether it’s due to the end of summer or the prolific produce in the backyard, from friends and their kids to the entire lot of my sister’s friends whom traveled from France for her wedding, the backyard table has been proving its worth, often loaded up with the fruits of the family’s gardening labor.
We’ve been enjoying baskets of fresh-picked peas, herbs, and the very beginnings of our tomato efforts the last few weeks. When I invited another like-minded family for dinner, I knew the answer was to spend the evening rolling rice paper stuffed with pea shoots, mustard greens, fresh herbs, vegetables, avocados, and a few of our freshly pickled radishes into spring rolls. We had originally planned on serving it alongside a large batch of traditional fried rice, but I switched to a more fragrant option at the last minute. My neighbor is always causing our yard to smell like a mélange of herbs and spices, and the recent wafts of her cooking had me craving curry yet again (a near daily occurrence).
The mix of coconut milk in the rice and spices cooked in create a bright yellow base for all the fresh vegetables that are added in once the rice is done. Salty and sweet vegetables get added to this rich and spicy rice.
A Few Noteworthy Points:
- I toasted my spice blend lightly before adding it to the rice in a cast iron skillet. Not necessary, but it does develop the flavors a bit.
- You can easily make this in a rice cooker by adding the coconut milk first and then filling to the water line marked on the bowl.
- Oh, and as long as you have gluten-free spices, you have a gluten-free dish to share.
1 cup coconut milk
3 tablespoons yellow curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 onion, diced
1/2 cup julienned carrots
1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
1 tablespoon fresh minced lemongrass stalk
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups snow peas or sugar snap peas, stem ends removed
1 tablespoon fish sauce, simply omit for a vegetarian/vegan dish
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar or buckwheat honey
1/4 cup fresh fenugreek leaves or Thai basil leaves
Rinse the rice thoroughly in a strainer until the water is clear and not cloudy coming through the strainer. In a medium saucepan, combine the coconut milk and 3 cups of water and bring to a boil.
Add in the rice, yellow curry powder, and the salt. Return the rice to a slow simmer, and then cover the saucepan and turn the heat to low.Cook the rice over low heat without removing the lid for 20 minutes or until tender.
While the rice is cooking, prepare the vegetables. Heat the coconut oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add in the onions, carrots, ginger, lemongrass, and the garlic and cook for five minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the pea pods. In a small dish, combine the fish sauce, lime juice, and the sugar/honey. Stir the sauce into the vegetable mixture and continue to cook for three minutes. Remove from the heat.
When the rice is finished cooking, stir in the vegetables. Season with salt to taste. Top with fresh herbs just before serving.
Makes 4 servings.
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon turmeric
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
2 teaspoons white pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon mace
Mix together all spices. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place until ready to use.
Makes 7 1/2 tablespoons curry powder