Tara Bench has authored her first cookbook — “Live Life Deliciously” — with dazzling recipes that are simple to prepare and please to the eye. She was food editor at Martha Stewart Living and food director at Ladies’ Home Journal, so she knows a thing or two about food, cooking history and techniques that go with her colorful and impressive recipes.
Bench’s international dishes include Moroccan kebabs with chermoula sauce, Thai meatball golden coconut curry, and garlic and sumac broccoli with sweet dates. Clearly, she knows how to ramp up the flavor with exotic and highly flavorful ingredients.
In the following curry recipe, Tara Teaspoon, as she is called, explains that “Blending and mincing all the delicious things to make a flavorful base for a fresh curry takes a lot of time.” Her secret ingredient to make this Seriously Simple is prepared curry paste. She claims you can make a pretty authentic-tasting curry in about half an hour!
Your grocery store most likely carries red curry paste, but if you’re lucky enough to live by an Asian grocer, experiment with all the varieties they offer and find your favorite. (Some are more spicy or aromatic than others.) The addition of creamy peanut butter here adds a delicious American twist. It reminds the author of the Massaman curry she enjoys at her corner restaurant.
This is best served with warm long-grained rice. I like to serve Thai beer or a fruity rose or chardonnay to accompany the curry.
Tasty tip from Tara
This quick curry is easy to customize. I usually make it with all vegetables, but you can use your own mix of veggies and even add tofu, shrimp, or chicken.
Marvelously Easy Thai Peanut Curry
Serves 4 to 6
- 6 cups chopped vegetables, such as green beans, snow peas, cauliflower, bell peppers and broccoli
- 2 tablespoons olive or avocado oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, cut into large dice
- 2 tablespoons grated ginger
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons red curry paste
- 3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
- Crushed peanuts
- Fresh basil
- 2 cups long-grain rice, cooked
1. Steam vegetables until just tender. Set aside.
2. Make curry: In a large, nonstick skillet, over medium-high heat, heat olive oil. Add the onion, ginger and garlic; cook until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes.
3. Add the fish sauce, curry paste, peanut butter, lime juice, salt, coconut milk and chicken broth. Cook, stirring until everything is combined and starts to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 1 minute.
4. Add the vegetables and gently simmer another 4 to 5 minutes.
5. Serve over cooked rice and top with chopped peanuts and fresh basil.
(Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cooking. She is the author of 18 cookbooks, including “Seriously Simple Parties,” and a James Beard Award-winning radio show host. You can contact her at www.seriouslysimple.com.)
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