A Big ol’ Veggie Curry

Big+Curry A Big ol Veggie Curry

This was actually dinner last night. Tonight W had his two cousins over for their first! sleepover! ever! And I doubt a vegetable curry would have gone over well. They played trains, and Mouse Trap, and played with bubble wrap, and we biked to the store for a movie and then went to the ice cream shop for some MacKays. We had pillow fights and popcorn, and grilled a plain old steak, straight-up, for dinner with new potatoes, carrots and peas from the CSA box. Sounds downright wholesome, don’t it?

W+with+carrots A Big ol Veggie Curry

For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about when I refer to my CSA box, I’d love to tell you about it – I’m hoping that soon CSA will be as common a household term as Costco or superstore.

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture – it’s a great arrangement that allows consumers (eaters) to connect more directly with (and more directly support) the source of their food. In a CSA relationship, the eater supports the farmer directly by buying a share of his or her crop at the beginning of the growing season. This guarantees a market for the farmers’ produce while covering the expense of planting early on, when it’s most needed. Members typically buy half shares (enough for 2-3 people) or whole shares (enough for a family of 4-5). It’s a direct way of sustainably supporting the existence of a small family farm, and getting to personally know who’s growing your food.

Over the course of the summer and fall (or the length of the growing season), CSA members typically receive weekly boxes of produce containing a share of the crop – most often fresh produce but often eggs, dairy and meat as well – dropped off and picked up at a prearranged location. For us, every Thursday between 5 and 7 we pop by the parking lot at the Hillhurst-Sunnyside Community Association, conveniently located across from Riley park (that has a wading pool!) and pick up our share – ours is a full share, and it about fills two shopping crates. It has become the highlight of the boys’ week to come and each pick one item from each box – white potatoes, purple potatoes, pink potatoes, summer squash (yellow zucchini and pattypan), tomatoes, onions, green onions, chard, lettuces, radishes, peas, and their favourite carrots, which they eat in the car on the way home.

Picking+CSA+stuff A Big ol Veggie Curry

Some CSAs send out weekly newsletters with photos and updates on the current crop. There is also often the option to go help out on your CSA farm – a great experience for anyone who wants to learn hands-on gardening skills or would like their kids to see exactly where their food is coming from. John, the owner (with his dad) of the farm we support, was telling me yesterday how thrilled he is with this new arrangement (in his twenties, he’s part of a new generation of Alberta farmer taking over the family farm – something not enough of the next generation are willing to do these days). This is his first year running a CSA. He says it’s far more efficient than the farmers’ markets as he knows exactly what’s being picked up and doesn’t have to guess at quantities nor haul the remainder home after a disappointing turnout (bad weather can affect weekly markets). Of course there isn’t any overhead either when all you’re doing is pulling into an empty parking lot once a week.

CSA+boxes A Big ol Veggie Curry

Our CSA is Eagle Creek Farms, in Bowden. But there are others in the Calgary area – Thompson Small Farm in Carbon, Blue Mountain Biodynamic Farm in Carstairs and Oxyoke Farms, in Linden. Of course they’re all booked up for this season, but it doesn’t hurt to connect now and perhaps even put your name on the list for next year. I know John has had a ton of interest for next spring already. For more information and a full list of Alberta CSAs, visit www.csaalberta.com.

Right – the curry. It was a ploy to get rid of the last of last week’s boxes before (or in this case immediately after) picking up this week’s. I chopped sweet onions, garlic scapes, a pepper (not from the box yet), yellow zucchini and chard, and at the last minute tossed in the remains of some flaked fish I used for a fish taco photo yesterday afternoon. Really – all you need to do to make a pretty smashing curry is saute whatever veg you like with a good glob of grated ginger and garlic, a spoonful of curry paste and a can of coconut milk poured in once the veg are soft and starting to turn golden on the edges – this means there are browned bits in the bottom of the pan, too, and the coconut milk will help you get them all up. If you want to add a spoonful of chutney – mango or otherwise – go for it.

Big+curry+2 A Big ol Veggie Curry

Big ol’ Curry

If you really need a recipe, here you go. Curry is a great cupboard cleaner – curries are great with potatoes (plain or sweet), zucchini, spinach, onions, lentils, beans, peppers, kale, chard, cauliflower… and bottled curry paste and canned coconut milk make the sauce easy. If you’re using light coconut milk and want to boost the coconut flavor even further without adding extra fat, add a teaspoon of coconut extract. Serve over steamed rice.

canola or olive oil, for cooking
2 onions, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
1-3 cups chopped fresh veg – any kind you like
2-3 tsp. curry paste
1/2 tsp. ground cumin or cumin seed (optional)
1/4 tsp. salt
1 14 oz (398 mL) can coconut milk, regular or light
A couple handfuls fresh spinach, chard or kale, chopped (remove the stems)
chopped peanuts or torn cilantro, to sprinkle on top (optional)

In a large skillet set over medium-high heat, sauté the onions in a drizzle of oil for 2-3 minutes, until soft. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute.

Add any firm veg you’re using, such as potatoes or cauliflower, and cook them for a few minutes, until they soften and start to turn golden on the edges. Add the remaining vegetables along with the curry paste, cumin, salt and coconut milk and bring the mixture to a simmer. Stir in the chutney, if you’re using it, and cook for about 5 more minutes, until the sauce thickens and the vegetables are tender. (How long you cook it all will depend on the veg you use and how big the pieces are.)

Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the spinach and cook for a minute, just until it wilts. Serve immediately over rice with chopped peanuts and/or cilantro sprinkled on top.

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August 20 2010 11:30 pm | one dish and vegetarian

21 Responses to “A Big ol’ Veggie Curry”

  1. Julie @ Willow Bird Baking on 20 Aug 2010 at 11:34 pm #

    Love your simple explanation for making curries AND love this recipe title ;) It looks so delicious!

  2. Jess on 21 Aug 2010 at 5:35 am #

    I completely agree about veg curry being a good way to make room for the new! I make one every two weeks and call it my “fridge dump” curry. Doesn’t matter how tired the veggies are, ’cause they’re not really the star of the dish. I usually do mine with plain yogourt instead of coconut milk.

  3. Sharon on 21 Aug 2010 at 7:23 am #

    I did a detour mid-recipe and my veg curry became Mulligatawny Soup. There was you see, a container of chicken broth and a chicken breast that wanted using. A bag of cooked, frozen Lundberg’s rice, and a blank smokey city outside my windows. I always need soup when it looks gloomy.

  4. JulieVR on 21 Aug 2010 at 8:03 am #

    Sharon – totally brilliant! Jess – you too! Yogurt is a good idea – I often use tomatoes and yogurt in a curry, but sometimes dumping in a can of coconut milk is easy (and delicious..)

  5. R on 21 Aug 2010 at 11:42 am #

    Hi Julie,
    We are doing a CSA from Thompson Small Farm this year. I have been enjoying the process very much!
    Thanks for the great reading!

  6. Laurie in Burnaby on 21 Aug 2010 at 5:53 pm #

    I have heard that cocoanut milk might have saturated fats, but they are a special kind of saturated fats that the body uses without problems.

    You can do the research if you wish, but don’t worry over-much about cocoanut milk.

    Laurie

  7. JulieVR on 21 Aug 2010 at 6:03 pm #

    Yes – coconut milk is very high in saturated fat. Coconut oil has the highest concentration of saturated fat of any food – and the debate on whether it’s a different, healthier type of fat is ongoing.. I decided to just not even go there!

  8. sharon on 21 Aug 2010 at 6:18 pm #

    Now being alone, it’s harder to make myself cook. I have decided to do one recipe a day that would give me at least two meals. I don’t think I’ve been off your blog in about two weeks! Mot of what I’ve done? All here. Well, except my own tomato soup.

  9. molly on 21 Aug 2010 at 8:17 pm #

    We’re so guilty of this same dish (and lovin’ it!). Our veggie curry last week inhaled one large eggplant, three potatoes, a pile of soft tomatoes, fresh onions. Maybe some green beans? And a heap of spices, more indian than thai. And piles of mint and cucumber in the raita! Pretty sure summer doesn’t get any better.

  10. Donna on 21 Aug 2010 at 11:05 pm #

    We had a vege curry for supper tonight, too – I don’t remember trying to make one before this – and my in-house curry expert says it is too mild and needs lentils. It was made to my taste, and one of the rules in this Mom’s kitchen is that if you criticize too much you wind up cooking.
    I have a problem and I need some advice.
    Many of my cookie sheets and 9 X13 pans are turning colour from the shiny light gray they have been for 30+ yrs. to a dark blackish, colour. Dirty oven? Bad dishwasher soap? Anyone have any ideas? Thanks.

  11. JulieVR on 22 Aug 2010 at 12:08 am #

    Donna – they just tend to darken, the coated ones. Dark sheets are actually great for roasting vegetables, making oven fries – anytime you want whatever it is you’re making to darken, since the darker colour retains heat better. Go get some half bun pans – they’re shiny, uncoated, rimmed.. and inexpensive at restaurant supply stores! I go to Brown’s downtown by the river. They’re cheap, too.

  12. Rebecca on 22 Aug 2010 at 6:01 am #

    Once again, Julie – I feel as though we are leading parallel lives! We started doing a CSA this year, too (August’s Harvest in Ontario, near Stratford). We pick our box up every Thursday evening as well, and I spend the evening after the kids are in bed lovingly washing and prepping my veggies for the next week. I actually look forward to it – even though it sometimes keeps me up until after midnight, what with all the soccer, football and baseball games in our house to get to, baths to be had and husbands (rather, husband) to spend quality time with (crashing in front of the t.v., that is!). I have your website up and running while I am working to inspire me and help me decide what the “menu” for this week will be. Thank-you for all your help!

  13. Rebecca on 22 Aug 2010 at 6:05 am #

    Oops, forgot to mention that I made the exact same thing last night to use up the rest of the 2 yellow squash, 2 zucchini and FIVE giant pattypans we received last week! Whew! Here’s a tip I inadvertently discovered: I often want the flavour of coconut milk, but don’t want to use a whole can in a recipe, so I freeze the rest flat in a big zippered baggie so that I can just break off a chunk to add to whatever I want the next time.Works like a charm. I suppose ice cube trays would work as well, but a bit more finicky and mine are currently full of babyfood!

  14. JulieVR on 22 Aug 2010 at 8:41 am #

    Rebecca – what a brilliant idea about the coconut milk! I’ve frozen it before, but not in a way that I can break off a chunk. I do that with ginger though – maybe we are leading parallel lives!

    Not sure if I mentioned this above – anyone who doesn’t want to use coconut milk can use yogurt or evaporated milk or even a splash of cream – and add a capful of coconut extract to give it that flavour without the saturated fat.

  15. Donna on 22 Aug 2010 at 10:02 am #

    Thanks Julie for the advice about the pans.
    What really puzzles me is why they should suddenly turn dark after being nice and shiny for 25 – 30 years. The change was dramatic and rapid – over a few weeks.

  16. Cheryl on 22 Aug 2010 at 10:11 pm #

    The night we pick up our CSA is often like this, but I usually resort to a big salad or pot of soup!

  17. Laurie in Calgary on 25 Aug 2010 at 6:22 pm #

    Thanks for this recipe! So easy and versatile (those are the best kinds these days). I think I’ll be making this at least every couple of weeks. I made it tonight with leftover potatoes, chicken, zuke, carrots and fresh parsley. The kids loved it!

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