Tonight’s dish I can’t say is all that exciting or necessarily out of the ordinary taste-wise from what I’m used to eating: vegetables in coconut milk. The Papua New Guinean nature of this dish comes from the fact that cooking in coconut milk is a PNG tradition: veggies, fish, fruit, etc. So here we are.
The flavors in this dish don’t differ all that much from the curry that Apple Crisp normally gets when we order Thai takeaway. No matter because for me, this week, it was the perfect thing to make because I committed the perfect grocery store crime: I impulsively overbought fruit and veggies.
This problem happens often (though less often than it used to pre-blog), and is usually a bit more under control in the winter when fruits and veggies aren’t necessarily at their finest. In the summer, however, with the peppers, berries, peaches, fresh tomatoes, etc, I have self-control issues. You see, I shop for veggies exclusively at a vegetable market here in Chicago called Stanley’s Fruits and Vegetables. And therein lies the problem. What’s the big deal about a vegetable market, you ask? The prices. They are ridiculous. For instance, this past week, blueberries were on sale for 98c for SIX PINTS. No joke. And vegetables run just as cheap.
I usually have a list that I stick to pretty strictly since the project leaves little wiggle room for extra meals once I cook my menu, but on those weeks where I fly by the seat of my pants, I almost always overbuy because everything just “looks so good.”
As I was unpacking this weeks’ spoils, I realized that I had bought: one butternut squash, one large eggplant, a summer squash, a two-pound bag of green beans, 2 red peppers, 1 yellow pepper, 6 bananas, 5 peaches, 2 mangos, 2 large bins of strawberries, 2 bins of blackberries, 1 basket of figs, 4 tomatoes, 2 ginormous onions and some sugar snap peas. For one week. For one person. What was I going to do with all of this food before it went bad?
Enter coconut “curry”. It was a basic chop and drop and managed to clear up at least 75% of my veggies. Most definitely a tasty solution. And the good thing about this recipe is that, while I used summer goods, it’d be just as good when using the bounty that comes with fall and winter.
Recipe adapted from The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
1 small butternut squash, peeled and diced
1 medium onion, sliced
½ large eggplant, diced, or 1 small eggplant
1 summer squash
1 cup green beans, chopped
2 tsp grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large red pepper, chopped
Vegetable or coconut oil for the pan
3 plum tomatoes
2 cups lite coconut milk
Dash of cayenne pepper
Cilantro or basil, to garnish
Salt and pepper, to taste
Rice for serving, if preferred
1. Cook the butternut squash in a small pot of water until just tender.
2. In a large, deep sauté pan, add the oil and onion. Saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook another 2 minutes.
3. Add the rest of the veggies except for the tomatoes and cook until a bit soft, about 5 minutes. Add the coconut milk and spices.
4. Bring to a boil. When it boils, add the cooked squash. Reduce heat and simmer about 10 minutes, uncovered until all the veggies are cooked through.
5. Right before you’re ready to serve, mix in the tomatoes, cilantro or basil (or both) and remove from heat.
**Side note: After eating the cassava pudding for the past two days, I realized that I really liked it. It took me a while to come to that conclusion. I ate it with eggs and ratatouille last night and it was delish. Probably a great breakfast cornbread swap**