Thai Green Curry

This dish makes a wonderful weeknight meal, as it’s not too complicated or time consuming, and of course, it’s really delicious.

It’s also a great way to use up extra veggies you might have in the fridge, so feel free to improvise! You can follow this recipe exactly, or you can use whatever vegetables you happen to have on hand.

To fill out the meal with extra substance, add tofu (pan toasted as shown below, or save time and simply add raw cubed tofu to the curry without any additional preparation). You could also chop a half block of tempeh into small cubes and use that instead.

In this recipe, I suggest serving the curry over brown basmati rice, but you could choose any grain you like, such as buckwheat, quinoa (both gluten-free options), whole wheat Israeli coucous or farro, for example.

Leftovers store easily in an airtight container in the fridge and can quickly be reheated in a saucepan along with the rice or other grain, plus a splash or two of water or vegetable stock to re-liquefy the sauce.

I hope you enjoy this recipe!

Ingredients 

See below for more extensive notes on special ingredients.

  • 1 cup brown basmati rice or other grain of choice
  • ¼ of a medium red onion
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1 small sweet potato
  • 1 bunch of broccolini
  • 3 shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 1 carrot
  • ½ block of extra-firm tofu or tempeh
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
  • 1.5 cups canned coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp Thai green curry paste
  • 1 Tbsp nama shoyu (or gluten-free tamari or coconut aminos)
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ⅓ cup raw cashews or peanuts
  • Dash of cayenne pepper (optional, if you like extra heat)

Instructions

1. Measure, rinse and drain 1 cup of brown basmati rice and cook it according to the package instructions. The kind I use (from Trader Joe's) takes about 40 minutes to simmer, so that’s why I recommend beginning with this step. Of course, other grains such as quinoa or buckwheat take a lot less time, so you can choose according to your needs.

2. If you’d like to add tofu to your curry dish, you have two options:

a) To save time, you can add your tofu cubes to the curry when the recipe calls for it, without any prior preparation.

b) If you prefer your tofu to have a bit of a firmer texture and some added flavor, you can steam/toast it first in a small frying pan with some vegetable stock (as shown below).

Regardless of which option you choose, you’ll first need to drain the tofu and squeeze out the excess water in a clean dish towel.

Once the towel has absorbed the excess water, chop the tofu into ½-inch cubes.

If you'd like to pan-toast your tofu, put just enough vegetable stock in a small frying pan to cover the bottom. Turn the heat to high.

Add the tofu cubes to the pan and allow them to simmer in the stock until the stock begins to be absorbed and evaporate, shaking the pan occasionally.

Just as the tofu begins to stick to the bottom of the pan, use a spatula to stir the cubes periodically so that they won’t stick too much.

Continue stirring occasionally until the tofu is slightly browned. Turn off the heat and set aside the tofu until later.

3. Wash and chop your veggies. You can chop them into any shape you’d like, but if you’d like to eat this dish with chopsticks, I recommend going with shapes that are easy to pick up with the sticks — specifically, longer strips instead of a dice. Refer to the photo for an example.

The only exception is the sweet potato. If you’re using any kind of potato, I recommend chopping that into a small dice, because they will cook more quickly that way, in line with the rest of the veggies.

4. Now we'll sauté the vegetables. In a large sauté pan, turn the heat to medium-high and add just enough vegetable stock to cover the bottom.

5. Add the onions and allow them to simmer. As the stock begins to evaporate a bit, the onions will begin to caramelize (turn brown). 

6. Add the minced fresh ginger and garlic and continue to saute until the stock has completely evaporated.

7. Add a bit more stock, and then the vegetables that are densest and therefore take the longest to cook. For the collection of veggies recommended in this recipe, we would begin with the diced sweet potato. Give it a few minutes’ head start.

Note: If you're surprised by the color, these are Japanese sweet potatoes, which are purple on the outside and white on the inside. Any kind of sweet potato will be fine.

8. Next add the chopped bell pepper and broccolini and stir them in. As the vegetable stock evaporates, continue adding just enough to coat the bottom of the sauté pan.

9. Next add the veggies with the shortest cooking time: shiitake mushrooms and zucchini.

10. Once all the veggies have begun to soften, add about 1 cup of vegetable broth to the pan, and 1 cup of coconut milk. Bring the liquid to a simmer and set the heat to medium.

11. In the container of a small blender (such as a Magic Bullet), combine 2 Tbsp Thai green curry paste and ½ cup coconut milk. Blend until smooth.

12. Transfer the curry + coconut milk mixture to the saute pan. Stir it in.

13. Add the tofu cubes now, whether you toasted them in advance or not.

14. Stir everything together. Place the lid on the pan and continue simmering the curry, stirring occasionally, until all of the vegetables are soft. This could take up to 10 minutes, depending on which vegetables you're cooking.

15. Chop about ⅓ cup raw cashews (or peanuts if you prefer) and stir them into the curry toward the end of the cooking time. Taste one of your densest veggies (carefully!) to be sure it's done — in this case, the sweet potato. When it’s done, turn off the heat.

16. Add 1 Tbsp of Nama Shoyu (or GF alternative -- tamari or coconut aminos) and 1 Tbsp of lime juice. Add salt and pepper to taste, and if you like a little extra heat, add a dash of cayenne pepper. Stir it all together, give it one more taste, and adjust the seasoning to your liking.

17. By now the rice should be done. Give it a stir and taste it (carefully) to be sure.

18. Scoop the rice into serving bowls.

19. Top with generous scoops of the vegetable curry. Feel free to sprinkle on a few more chopped cashews and even some fresh cilantro, if you’d like, for garnish and extra flavor.


 Serve and enjoy!

Special Ingredient Notes

Tofu

This is not a “special” ingredient, per se, but I do have a few shopping notes for you. It’s important to always choose organic tofu (and all soy products), because when it’s not organic, you can pretty much count on it being genetically modified. Crops are genetically modified to withstand a lot more chemical fertilizers and pesticides, making them extremely harmful to the environment and our health. It’s better not to support this kind of agriculture.

Trader Joe’s sells extra-firm organic sprouted tofu in the refrigerated section. What I love about this, aside from the very important organic aspect, is that it comes in a package that keeps each half-block separately sealed. So you can use half a block for one meal, and keep the rest for another time without worrying about it going bad before you have a chance to use it.

Thai Green Curry Paste & Coconut Milk

You can find Thai green curry paste in the Asian aisle of some well-stocked grocery stores, but the surest bet for finding some is to order it from Vitacost, which is where I get mine. I also buy the red curry variety regularly, and both are from the brand Thai Kitchen.

When I refer to coconut milk in this and all of my recipes, I mean full-fat canned coconut milk, and not the coconut milk beverage sold in the refrigerated section at the supermarket for pouring on your cereal. I prefer the Thai Kitchen brand for canned coconut milk, as well (you can often find small cases of it at Costco). WholeFoods 365 store brand is another good choice.

Sometimes when you open a new can of coconut milk, the water has separated from the fat, and it is solid on top, so it will be necessary to blend it back together in a small blender. My Magic Bullet blender is super handy for this task.

Nama Shoyu

Nama Shoyu is the Japanese name for fermented soy sauce. Since it is fermented and offers probiotic value, once opened you have to keep it in the fridge. If you’re gluten-free, then you won’t be able to use this product, and in that case you can opt for gluten-free tamari or coconut aminos instead. All of these options are available at Vitacost and WholeFoods, and sometimes you can find Nama Shoyu (and always coconut aminos or GF tamari) in the Asian section at Wegmans if you’re in the Northeast.

Brown Basmati Rice

You can find this at Trader Joes, WholeFoods and other well-stocked grocery stores. But any grain will do. If you’re gluten free, any rice fits the bill, or you could try buckwheat or quinoa; and if gluten is not a concern, you could opt for whole wheat couscous, farro or barley, for example.

Cashews

The best price I’ve found on all nuts is at Trader Joes. Sometimes Costco is comparable, but their selection is never as dependable. So if you want the most reasonable price, you can’t beat Trader Joe’s for nuts of all kinds.

Lime juice

I add lime juice to my water and cook with it often enough, that instead of buying fresh limes, I buy these jars of fresh lime juice from the company Santa Cruz. The jar keeps in the fridge for a long time, and it’s so nice to have on hand. I recommend this for convenience, and especially if it helps you drink more water throughout the day, since it's so important for your health to stay well hydrated. In order to find this in-store, I usually need to make a trip to WholeFoods (juice aisle) or Wegmans.

What's Healthy About This Recipe?

Brown rice offers protein and fiber, magnesium, Vitamin B6 and iron.

Bell peppers are very rich in Vitamins A, C, E, B6 and folate.

Sweet potatoes are big on Vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), fiber and potassium. They also deliver a healthy dose of Vitamin B6, magnesium, Vitamin C, iron and calcium. One cup of sweet potatoes also offers over 2 g of protein.

Ginger has been used medicinally for centuries. It is known to aid in digestion and help settle an upset stomach. It is also known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and has been found to relieve muscle soreness and recovery following exercise, when used regularly.

Broccolini is a hybrid of regular broccoli and Chinese broccoli. One cup offers 105% of your daily vitamin C intake, 39% of your Vitamin A needs and 15% of the recommended dietary fiber. Broccolini also contains potassium, calcium and iron in smaller amounts, and it's a good source of plant-based protein.

Zucchini is another food that's big on Vitamin C. It also provides a good amount of Vitamin B6, potassium, magnesium, Vitamin A, calcium, iron and protein.

Carrots are an excellent source of Vitamins A, C and K.

Tofu offers a very large dose of plant-based protein. It also delivers an impressive amount of calcium and iron, as well as contributing a small amount of magnesium, Vitamin B6, potassium and Vitamin A.

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