Red Lentil Coconut Basil Curry

A few weeks ago our dishwasher stopped working.  This was not a big surprise; the appliances in our kitchen are all from the late 1970s, early 1980s if you’re feeling generous.  The joys of renting an apartment is that you can know nothing about dishwashers, and yet, they still somehow magically get fixed.

Except in this case, we now have a new fridge and a new stove, but our dishwasher is still sad and broken.  On the bright side, when we cleaned out the fridge, we also tackled the cabinets.  I found a bag of red lentils my mom bought when the baby was first born.  I also found a green curry paste that went bad in May 2013.  Do lentils + curry = dinner?  Though the can of paste went in the garbage, we dined on this delicious concoction last night.

img_5219

Red Lentil Coconut Basil Curry

  • coconut oil
  • 1 onion, sliced thinly
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, minced
  • about 1 teaspoon grated ginger (I keep mine in the freezer for just this occasion)
  • big handful curry powder
  • about a teaspoon cumin
  • about half a teaspoon cinnamon
  • about a teaspoon salt
  • just a sprinkle of red crushed peppers
  • half a teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • about 4-5 leaves basil
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • a big handful baby spinach
  • juice from half a lime
    • to serve: naan or rice, Greek yogurt, green onions
  1. In a large  skillet, heat the coconut oil over a medium heat and add onions. Saute about 4-5 minutes, and add garlic and ginger.  Cook until everything is nice and soft.
  2. Add all of the spices (curry powder, cinnamon, salt, turmeric, cumin, crushed red peppers) and the jalapeno and give everything a good toss through. (Don’t be afraid to add a little more coconut oil to keep the spices from sticking to the pan.)
  3. Add the lentils, coconut milk, stock and basil.  Turn the heat down and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the spinach and fold in gently, letting it wilt.  Add lime juice and adjust seasoning to taste.
  5. Serve with rice or naan, and a dollop of Greek yogurt.  Top with a bit of green onion for a nice finish.

The Verdict:

The answer to the question above is a resounding yes.  This is so, so good.  Even better, it’s healthy (I think).  Best of all, this cooks itself in about 25 minutes, total.  That includes the time to cut your veggies and mince your garlic.  Yes.

Advertisements

Slow Cooked Coconut Curry Chicken

While I grant that it’s totally odd to be eating heavy slow cooker dishes when the temperature outside is approaching 100 degrees F and every time we step outside I melt into a small puddle that incidentally seems to attract all the mosquitoes in the DMV area, the slow cooker seems to be one of the few ways I actually get dinner to the table these days.  Just another reason for my love affair with the crock pot: dinner can basically be done by the time baby goes down for and then wakes up from his first nap.  And I can spend the rest of the day feeling like at least I accomplished one thing.

img_5106

Slow Cooked Coconut Curry Chicken

  • 2 pounds bone-in chicken breasts, skin removed
  • salt and pepper
  • coconut oil
  • 2 cans coconut milk
  • a big heap fresh basil
  • a big handful yellow curry powder
  • a handful chili powder
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • a big squeeze chili paste or 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch or flour
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated or minced
  • to serve:
    • cooked rice or barley
    • cilantro
    • more basil
    • sour cream or Greek yogurt
  1. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add a little bit of coconut oil.
  2. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper.  Add them to the pan (don’t overcrowd the pan!) and get a nice brown sear on each side.  Remove to a plate while you assemble the slow cooker ingredients.
  3. In the slow cooker, combine coconut milk, basil, about 2 teaspoons salt and a teaspoon pepper, curry powder, and chili powder. Stir to combine and then add the red onions, garlic, and chili paste/jalapeno.  Place the seared chicken on top.
  4. Cook on low for 6-8 hours and then remove the chicken; let it cool for a few minutes so you can shred it.
  5. As chicken cools, add the ginger to the slow cooker.  Combine a little bit of cornstarch or flour with about a tablespoon cold water and give it a quick stir – add this to the slow cooker to help thicken the sauce a bit.
  6. Shred the chicken, removing the bones, and then return it to the crock pot.  Cook on low for another ten minutes or so.
  7. Serve on rice (we used barley – oh so good), topped with cilantro.

The Verdict:

Of all the dishes in slow cooker land, this is the one I’ve heard the most rave reviews from my husband about.    In fact, I was pretty sure I shouldn’t be posting this recipe, with the 100 degree heat and all, but then Husband asked: “but what if you forget how you made it?!”  I won’t, because I basically just adapted to our taste from this fabulous lady, but your wish is my  command, honey.

Slow Cooker Ramen

No one who lives in DC is actually from here.  “Home” is always a word for another state, another city, another place – even if that’s somewhere in the DMV area (so, I admit I don’t think Fairfax counts as DC).  Somehow, almost 14 years have passed since I first moved here, and when I talk about going home, I always mean Boston.

However, there are some signs that my son will mean “DC” when he talks about home.  Like the fact that we just bought a house here. (Side note:  Yea, so that happened, and it was terrifying.)  And he owns more DC-onesies than can fit in his chest of drawers.  And most importantly, the local ramen guy knows his parents, and always manages to squeeze them in ahead of the long line.  Thanks, Tony.

IMG_4625

Slow Cooker Ramen, inspired by Cooking Light

  • canola or olive oil
  • 2 pounds pork roast or loin
  • salt, pepper
  • crushed red pepper
  • 2 onions, peeled and halved horizontally
  • 8 cups chicken stock (can also use some water instead)
  • 1/4 cup  soy sauce, divided
  • 2 containers shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • about 2 inches of fresh ginger, sliced thinly
  • 1 package fresh udon noodles
  • one egg per servings planned (i.e., one egg per bowl)
  • 1/2 bunch scallions, sliced
  • a handful of sesame seeds
  • optional – 1 sheet nori, cut into very thin strips; 1 cup or so corn kernels

1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add oil to pan. Season the pork with salt and pepper, and then add pork to the pan and sear on all sides.  Place in the slow cooker.

2. Increase the heat of the skillet and add onions, cut side down.  Cook until charred, and then transfer to slow cooker. Add the stock and about two tablespoons of soy sauce to the slow cooker.  Shake some red pepper in there for heat. Remove the stems from the mushrooms and add those to the slow cooker.  Cover and cook on low for 7 hours.

3. Remove pork from cooker and let rest while you thinly slice the mushroom caps.  Strain the mushroom caps from the brother.  Add 2 tablespoons soy sauce, mushroom caps, sesame oil, and ginger to slow cooker. Cook on high for 20 minutes. Add noodles and corn to slow cooker; cook 5 minutes.

4. As the noodles cook, poach an egg or two to serve. Serve with the soup, sprinkle with sesame seeds, scallions, and nori, if using.

The Verdict:

No one will be replacing Sakuramen anytime soon, but goodness this was good.

Asian-inspired Grilled Salmon Salad

This past weekend is now officially known as the Epic Weekend of Fun.  Just to run some of the numbers quickly:

  • One dip in an ice cold river.
  • Not one, but two epic cover bands.
  • The trifecta of lunches: brisket, burgers, and fried chicken.
  • Four amigos.
  • Five mile hike somewhere 45 minutes from the city, which felt like it was about 4500 miles from the city.
  • (Far too many) bottles of wine.  Let’s not put a number on this one.

This week, I’m thinking about atoning for our sins (side note: this seems to be a theme around here).  To the Husband’s chagrin, this means hitting up the fish train.  Honey: welcome to tonight’s dinner.

IMG_3802

Asian-Inspired Grilled Salmon

  • about 4-5 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha
  • 1/2 inch ginger, grated
  • salt, pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound salmon fillets, skin on
  • 1 bag arugula/baby kale/spinach
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 bunch scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • cilantro, to serve
  1. In a small bowl, combine soy sauce through garlic and mix well.  Set aside about a third of the mixture to act as your dressing later on.  In a large flat bottom bowl, pour the soy sauce mixture and lay the salmon, flesh side down (to increase absorption).  Let it sit for about 20-30 minutes – any longer and the soy sauce will start to toughen up the protein.
  2. Heat a grill pan over medium heat and coat with cooking spray.  Add salmon, flesh side down, and grill about 4-5 minutes.  Using tongs, flip to the other side and grill until the middle is no longer pink.  The skin will sort of neatly fall away from the fish as you remove it.
  3. Assemble your salad ingredients (arugula through avocado) and lay your cooked fish on top.  Dress with the reserve soy sauce mixture + feel virtuous.

IMG_3798

The Verdict:

This is a super easy, super quick way to feel super virtuous and healthy.  Of course, we’ll be taking our nightly trip to Mr. Yogato right after this.  We finally have enough stamps for a free fro-yo! #theepicweekendcontinues

Grilled Asian-Inspired Chicken & Peach Salad

This weekend was that rare weekend when we had very little we needed to do.  We listened to jazz in the sculpture garden.  We ate ramen.  We drank one too many vodka sodas and danced our faces off.  We ate Italian and maybe drank too much wine.  We went to the movies – I even got to pick, since it’s my birthday week . Crushed it.

Sort of like this salad.  And the Barden Bellas.

IMG_3412

for the marinade

  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 teaspoon sambal oelek or other chili paste
  • about 1/2 cup soy
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • a few cracks black pepper
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound chicken breasts

for the salad

  • arugula
  • 3-4 peaches, sliced
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 big handful cherry tomatoes
  • about 6-8 green onions, sliced
  • 2 oz goat cheese, crumbled

for the dressing

  • a few quick zests of ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili pasta
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1/3 cup soy
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • a few cracks of black pepper
  1. Whisk together your marinade.  Place chicken in large ziplock bag and pour the marinade over it; make sure the chicken really bathes it all in.  Place in the fridge and let it rest for about 2-3 hours – any longer and the soy sauce will start to really toughen up the meat.
  2. Heat two large grill pans (jealous of those of you with REAL grills); coat with nonstick spray.  Cook the chicken 3-4 minutes on each side over medium heat.  In a separate pan, toss together the peaches & tomatoes and grill those about 3-5 minutes total; add the green onions at the end, so they don’t overcook.
  3. Add all salad ingredients together – arugula, avocado, chicken, & grilled fruit.  Whisk together a little dressing using (most of) the same ingredients as the marinade and toss the whole salad with the goat cheese.

IMG_3411

The Verdict:

There’s going to be a tussle tomorrow for who gets to bring the leftovers for lunch.