Curry in a Hurry!

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For the most part, I love cooking. But there are some days when I just want to kick my feet up, sip on a hearty glass of wine, and enjoy the moment. Today was one of those days. But just because I was not in the mood to spend too much time in the kitchen did not mean that I did not want a robust dinner to match that full-flavored glass of vino. More…

For the most part, I love cooking. But there are some days when I just want to kick my feet up, sip on a hearty glass of zinfandel, and enjoy the moment; maybe even watch the sky fill with twinkling lights as the day turns into night. Today was one of those days. But just because I was not in the mood to spend too much time in the kitchen did not mean that I did not want a satisfying meal to match that full-flavored glass of vino.

One of my favorite no-fuss meals requires just a smidge of prep and then it is only a matter of sitting back patiently to reap the flavorful results. The funny thing about this recipe though it that it was the result of a fluke mishap in grocery shopping, or lack there of. I had forgotten to get some chicken to add to a basic Japanese curry and had no desire to venture out to get the missing ingredient as night was falling. My lovely daughter had told me at some point previously that she had started putting chickpeas (garbanzo beans) in her curry instead of potatoes and I always have a can or two on hand so I thought that might be a good protein replacement, but I still needed some bulk beyond the sweet carrots and tender onions. I took a look in the fridge to see what I might be able to steal from another planned meal later in the week (I am a fan of putting off today what I can do tomorrow; at least when it comes to grocery shopping). The cauliflower was yearning to be used and, if I am not mistaken, winked at me. And with that, a star was born–or at least a stellar meal!

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Cauliflower Curry in a Hurry

INGREDIENTS

FOR RICE

  • 1 cup of basmati rice
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ghee
  • 1 1/2 cups of water

FOR SAUCE

  • 1 large organic sweet onion, minced
  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 1 29oz-can of garbanzo beans/chickpeas, drained
  • 1 small head of cauliflower, cut in florets
  • 6 medium carrots, peeled & cut in 1″ pieces
  • 1 3.5oz-packet of golden curry sauce mix, broken in pieces
  • 2 1/2 cups of water
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • fresh herbs, if desired
  • crispy onions, if desired

MISE EN PLACE

  1. Measure out rice, salt, ghee, and water for rice.
  2. Mince onion, drain chickpeas, cut cauliflower, peel and cut carrots, and mince herbs (if using)
  3. Break up curry block and measure out water for curry.
  4. Make sure ghee, salt, and pepper are within reach.

STEP ONE
To make this foolproof rice and quick and easy curry that is protein packed and loaded with fresh veggies, start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees. Once preheated, bring water for rice to a boil in a medium ovenproof sauce pan. Stir in rice, butter, salt and water. Cover and return to a boil. Put rice in oven and set timer for 15 minutes. Once done, remove from oven and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes (until sauce is done). Fluff.

STEP TWO
In a large sauce pan over medium heat, melt ghee. Add minced onion, cooking until tender and slightly golden(approx. 5 mins). Add cauliflower florets and 1″ carrot pieces. Cook for 5 minutes. Add water and bring to a boil. Add golden curry pieces. Stir to dissolve. Add chickpeas and stir. Lower heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until veg is tender (approx. 10 mins), stirring occasionally. Ladle sauce over prepared rice, and some fresh herb and crispy onion, and serve!

Makes four generous servings.

As you can see from the lack of steps, this curry in a hurry is not only quick, it is easy! But don’t let that make you think it might be lackluster. By using the golden curry sauce mix, the flavor is anything but boring. Personally, I like the hot golden curry sauce mix, but there is also mild and medium hot, and extra hot available. You can normally find it at your local grocery store in the ethnic/international aisle, but if not, you can also purchase through Amazon.com via the links above. And yes, I get a few pennies for your purchase, but whether you buy at your store or online, the most important thing is that you try it. The combination of ingredients marries so well in the curry. Because the curry cooks so quickly, there are no muddled flavors or textures. The carrots are sweet and chunky, the onion slightly caramelized and soft, the chickpeas have a slight chew, and the cauliflower is toothsome yet mellowed from its raw state. And when you pour this spicy mixture over fluffy, tender rice, everything visually pops–all your senses are engaged. As I sit here sipping the last few drops of my wine, I can’t help but wonder when the stars will align, and we–the cauliflower curry and I, that is–will meet again.

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Meal Menagerie: Starring Cauliflower

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Every few weeks, we have a grocery standoff in my house. No one is interested in heading to the store, but we are all hungry. For the most part, when we do go grocery shopping, I plan the meals and make a detailed grocery list so that I do not have to frequent the store any more than necessary. This way of shopping helps keep down on wasted food, but does not lend itself to making meals up on the fly. So when we have a meal menagerie, where we have to put together a meal from what’s in the cupboard, it is a challenge akin to Chopped or Iron Chef except there is no time limit. More…

Every few weeks, we have a grocery standoff in my house. No one is interested in heading to the store, but we are all hungry. For the most part, when we do go grocery shopping, I plan the meals and make a detailed grocery list so that I do not have to frequent the store any more than necessary. This way of shopping helps keep down on wasted food, but does not lend itself to making meals up on the fly. So when we have a meal menagerie, where we have to put together a meal from what’s in the cupboard, it is a challenge akin to Chopped or Iron Chef except there is no time limit.

This week’s odd pairing consisted of orecchiette pasta, a head of cauliflower, a few slices of leftover bacon, Italian bread crumbs, and some herbs–nothing to outrageous. I put all the ingredients in front of me, trying to make sense of what to do. It started off simply enough. I decided to roast the cauliflower, but as I began to unwrap it, I changed my mind. I decided that I would fry up the bacon and then stir fry the cauliflower in the bacon drippings. But then I had an interesting thought. What if I took a potato peeler and shaved the cauliflower, and then braised those tender slivers in a pan with a knob of butter and some chicken stock? I decided it was worth investigating. It took a bit of work to shave the whole head, but was well worth it,  it looked like pristine albino truffles when I was done.

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The rest of the meal came together rather easily and I was more than happy with the results. The orecchiette provided a nice toothsome quality that I have not found in other pastas; chewy yet somehow creamy. The cauliflower provided a sweetness, and by braising it, a small amount of sauce to stick to the pasta. The bread crumbs stood in for grated cheese. The bacon provided some guts and smoke. But what pulled it together were the herbs. They took what otherwise may have seemed a heavy dish and brightened it up; making my first bite of tonight’s meal menagerie enchanting! And as I watched my 9-year-old eat her entire bowl of pasta containing more than two servings of veg without arguing about it, I realized this dish was pure magic!

Orecchiette with Cauliflower, Bacon, & Herbs

INGREDIENTS

  • 250 grams (8.8oz) of dried orecchiette
  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • a knob of butter
  • chicken stock to almost cover cauliflower in pan
  • 4 sliced of smoked bacon
  • sprinkling of Italian bread crumbs
  • 1 Tbsp of thyme, cut finely
  • 1 Tbsp of tarragon, cut finely
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp of salt for pasta water

MISE EN PLACE

  1. Cook bacon in the oven at 400 degrees until fully cooked.
  2. Fill large stock pot with water.
  3. Shave cauliflower.
  4. Get out butter, chicken stock,bacon, bread crumbs, salt, and pepper.
  5. Cut herbs finely.
  6. Slice cooked bacon into thin strips.

STEP ONE
Turn pasta water to high. Once boiling, add salt and dissolve. Cook according to package directions.

STEP TWO
Heat large fry pan over medium heat. Add butter. Once melted, add cauliflower. Once fully coated with butter, add chicken stock and simmer over low heat until tender. Season with salt and pepper.

STEP THREE
Using a spider/slotted spoon, add cooked pasta to cauliflower pan. Add bacon, a sprinkling of bread crumbs, and most of the herbs. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

STEP FOUR
Serve in wide bowls, adding a bit more bread crumbs and herbs to garnish.

Makes 4 generous servings.

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