Sunday, September 9, 2012

Spicy Vegies in cream cheese and green curry sauce

Most of the time I over stock my little refrigerator with a week’s supply of fresh vegetables. Come weekend, I need to clean it up to give some space for my Sunday’s fresh market picks.

I still have a few pieces of cucumbers left since last Monday, the skin crumpled and wilted but it’s too precious to waste it. There were also few pieces of eggplants, carrots, tomatoes and okra (lady fingers) that can almost make a one good dish if I want to.

Because I don’t want to throw anything, I cleaned the leftover vegetables and sliced one by one. Good thing I still have not used the ready-made green curry sauce given to me by a Thai friend, so I whipped up something spicy, Asian and healthy.

This dish is so simple to prepare and requires at least 10-15 minutes cooking time. To prepare the vegetables, get two medium size cucumbers, remove the core (seeds) and slice diagonally into bite size strips. I don’t usually remove the skin of cucumber because it added some color and crunch. For the carrots, you can slice it into small cube. You will also need at least 1 medium size eggplant, same cut with that of cucumbers and a few pieces of okra sliced diagonally. In all honesty, there are no clear-cut ways on how to slice your vegetables. It all depends on you. For me, it’s always random: shapes should create some contrasts and highlights, color and cuts should do away from monotony, and please take note that thickness affects cooking time.

In a wok with heated olive oil, saute onions until wilted and translucent. Add minced garlic and be careful not to brown it much. Add the green curry paste and continue stir-frying until fragrant. Then add carrots, and the rest of the vegetables (Tip: I usually put all the vegies in one batch, and as soon as soft vegies are tender, pretty sure those a bit on the hard side like carrots will still be crunchy and firm and I want my carrots and cucumbers prepared this way.) Add ¼ cups of stock or plain water and at least 2-3 tbsp of cream cheese. Cover the pot or wok and let it simmer for 5 minutes until you achieve desired doneness in the vegetables. Add fish sauce, a dash of pepper, and adjust as necessary according to your preference.

Thai curries are usually cooked in coconut milk to mellow the spiciness and to give that extra depth in flavor. I don’t have any ready coconut milk on the refrigerator. Instead, I used some cream cheese that has been staying there for quite some time. Soon I realized that indeed the soft cheese has made its rightful role in the green curry sauce.

Serve warm over a cup of steamed rice. Garnish with fresh holy basil and more red chillies if desired.

Instead of steamed rice, I used boiled sweet potatoes topped with fresh marjoram. Of course my potted garden provided me with fresh holy basil and marjoram, the advantage I get in growing herbs.

The next time you have throw-away vegetables or foods from your pantry and refrigerators, better think twice. Feeding yourself and conserving energy (throwing energy sources to waste in this case) need only a little creativity in the kitchen. Give vegetables a second chance to fullfill their duty to you.

(Note: Meat or meat products were not used in this dish, so this is recommended for vegetarians and those who watch what they eat.) 

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