Monday night found me with no dinner plan. There were a couple of aging zucchini in the fridge, still firm but starting to blemish and a purple bell pepper, all from the farm stand near work. I found a package of frozen spinach in the freezer and a vague plan started to form. The result was a curry-like dish.
Spinach and Zucchini Curry
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes
1 10 oz. pkg. frozen chopped spinach, mostly thawed (see first direction)
1 onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
2 medium zucchini, quartered and cut into 1/2″ pieces
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped, or pressed through a garlic press
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 Tbsp. sweet curry powder
1 tsp. paprika
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup water
kosher salt and black pepper
Remove the brick of spinach from the package, place it on a cutting board and cut it into about 20 cubes. This is easiest if spinach is mostly thawed. Transfer cubed spinach to a clean dish towel, twist towel into a ball and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onions and bell pepper, sprinkle with salt and toss to coat with oil. Cook, tossing occasionally, until the onions and peppers have softened, about 5 minutes. Transfer cooked onions/peppers to a bowl, retaining as much oil in the skillet as possible, and set aside.
Return skillet to medium heat. When oil is shimmering add the zucchini, sprinkle with salt and cook, undisturbed, for 2 minutes. Shake the pan to redistribute zucchini and cook, undisturbed for another 2 minutes. Transfer zucchini to the bowl with the onions and peppers, again retaining as much oil as possible.
Once again return the skill to medium heat. Add the spinach. Cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the moisture has been released, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir until aromatic, probably no more than 30 seconds.
Return the onions, peppers and zucchini to the pan and add the curry and paprika. Stir until spices are distributed throughout the skillet then add the tomatoes, yogurt and water. Stir until the yogurt is fully dispersed into the vegetables, creating a sauce. Cook for 5 minutes. Taste for salt and pepper; adjust as desired.
I nuked the frozen slam of spinach for a minute on full power to knock it from brick to mostly thawed. Your mileage, and microwave, may very.
You may wish to remove the seeds from the zucchini. I do this after quartering by just running the knife along where the seeds meet solid zucchini. Seeds aren’t really a problem on smallish zucchini. When the zucchini get to the large size the seeds can turn to mush in your dish.
3 lbs. carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4″ slices (on the bias)
3 cups vegetable broth
1 15 oz. lite coconut milk
1 head cauliflower, cored and cut into 1/2″ pieces
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
2 cups frozen peas
1/2 cup chopped cilantro or parsley (optional)
Place onions in a food processor and pulse until finely cut. Transfer to a bowl.
Place peppers in the food processor and pulse until finely cut. Transfer to a strainer to remove as much moisture as possible.
Combine the spices in a bowl and stir until well blended.
Prep remaining vegetables and set aside.
Heat a large dutch oven over medium heat for 3 minutes, or until smoking.
Add the onions and drained peppers along with a good pinch of kosher salt. Stir in the oil to coat and allow to cook for ~5 minutes until softened. Add the ginger and garlic; cook until aromatic, about 30 seconds, a minute at most.
Add the spice blend and stir into the onions/peppers. Allow to cook for about a minute, stirring a few times to prevent burning.
Add the carrots and vegetable broth. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 5 minutes
Add the coconut milk, cauliflower and drained tomatoes. Bring back to a simmer, recover and cook for 15 minutes
Add the frozen peas and cook to heat them through, about 5 minutes.
Garnish with chopped cilantro or parsley (if desired).
You may ask why I process the the onions and peppers separately. I found that the peppers produced so much liquid when chopped in the food processor that I wanted to strain that off so the dish didn’t have to work at evaporating the liquid. I actually took the pepper liquid, and the drained tomato liquid, combined them in a small pan, and simmered them until they reduced to about 1/3 of the original volume. I added that into the curry along with the coconut milk. I really didn’t notice them in the final product so I left that out of the recipe text.
This recipe is adapted from a great book I picked up years ago named Something for Everyone. The premise was to provide recipes that would make a dish for a family of vegetarians and non-vegetarians from one recipe. It appears to no longer be in print.
One of the reasons I share the list of what we made for our Saturday night gatherings is so I have a way to recall what we made previously. This dish is based on a recipe I found a year ago which I made, liked and forgot about. I’ve tweaked it a bit to use the spices we had on hand and adjusted the ratios for the amount I was making for Saturday night dinner.
A co-worker gives me some of the bounty from his garden and earlier this week he gave me a green and yellow summer squash. It seemed more zucchini than yellow squash to me. It was also the perfect candidate for a curry application.
Curried Zucchini, White Rice with Aji Dulce and Pan-fried Chicken
In this instance the curry refers to the use of sweet curry powder rather than a curried stew. Though it probably would have been good in a stew with a few other veggies.
I served the curried zucchini over white rice cooked with aji dulce, a dried pepper a co-worker brought Ted from South America. I opted to have some pan-fried breaded chicken breast with this as well.
This is a good, hearty dish. We typically serve it over plain white rice. While it seems relatively good for you I’m not sure that it fits into the “eating healthier” category. The coconut milk is not the lightest product on earth. Still we enjoy it and have it once a month or so.
Chicken and Spinach Curry
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes
2 Tbsp. oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or put through a garlic press
1 Tbsp. ginger, freshly grated
1 Tbsp. sweet curry powder
2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/8 tsp. cayenne (add more, or leave out, to your taste)
Get your prep out of the way. Chop the onion and set aside. Mince or press the garlic and put it in a bowl with the ginger. Combine the curry powder, cumin, turmeric and cayenne in another bowl. Open the tomatoes (don’t drain them) and the coconut milk. Chop the chicken into bite size pieces. Rinse, spin and chop the spinach.
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until they begin to soften, probably 2-3 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Add the garlic and ginger to the saucepan. Stir to combine and keep it moving until the garlic and ginger are fragrant. That usually takes less than a minute for me.
Add the spices and combine with the onions, garlic and ginger. Keep stirring for 30 seconds or so.
Add in the tomatoes, their juice and the coconut milk. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to medium. Cook for 7-8 minutes until the tomatoes start to break down.
Stir in the chicken and spinach. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Cook until the spinach wilts to your taste and the chicken is warmed through.
Add salt & pepper to taste. Serve.
This recipe is roughly based on one for Turkey and Spinach Curry found on The New York Times website. I think I was searching for uses for leftover turkey. That article was dated 2009.
When Ted makes this he heats a cup or so of homemade chicken broth in a small pan to a simmer and reduces it to about a 1/4 cup. He adds that along with the tomatoes and coconut milk. It adds a bit of flavor and a certain textural component. I’m too lazy to go through that trouble (or dirty another pan).