As I sit here and write, the snow is falling in sheets outside my window; and, while I know I tend to ramble on about the state of the weather, I promise this is going somewhere.
Cold weather ignites my desire for soup, of course, but spicy food as well, like this Thai vegetable curry; and studies have shown that eating spicy foods comes with a few welcome health benefits as well. Spicy foods serves to wake up our taste buds but it also wakes up our metabolism, as the main component in spicy food, capsaicin, has thermogenic effects and works to burn calories for up to 20 minutes after the last bite passes our lips.
And since heart disease is taking more women than breast and cervical cancer combined, we would all be wise to spice up our lives. Spicy pepper helps to reduce the damage of LDL (bad cholesterol) on our bodies and fight inflammation; which is a major culprit in heart attacks and strokes.
Now I don’t know about you, but during the winter months my extremities are freezing cold, which can be boiled down to the weather and a hereditary circulation issue; but consuming spicy foods promotes healthy blood circulation in the body. As eating spicy foods increases the body’s temperature and therefore gets the heart pumping and blood flowing; and peppers which are high in vitamin C and A works to strengthen the blood vessel walls.
In just a few short decades Thai food has grown from relative obscurity to one of the most popular cuisines on the planet; and the Thai are onto something! This Thai vegetable curry has many flavors and textures going on (read: spice), and it pays homage to the flavors of the south Pacific- as it’s flecked with the spice that I so crave in this kind of weather.
As far as the Thai vegetable curry paste is concerned, feel free to make it in advance or in large batches for later use. And don’t let yourself be boxed in; this paste is well placed in a great many dishes, not just this curry. I used tamari sauce, instead of soy sauce, and served in on a bed of quinoa to satisfy the gluten intolerant among us; why? Because I’m nice like that!
With that said, welcome to November, the month of advised and ill advised facial hair, snow and spicy Thai vegetable curry!
Thai Vegetable Curry
For the paste
2 shallots, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
2 green chilies, seeded and chopped (for extra spice, only seed one of chilies)
Zest of 1 lime
Small bunch fresh cilantro
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 bunch bok choy, chopped
½ cup cremini mushrooms, quartered
½ cup enoki mushrooms
½ cup shitake mushrooms, roughly chopped
1-14 oz can coconut milk
½ cup vegetable stock
Handful of sugar snap peas, cut in half on the diagonal
2 handfuls bean sprouts
1 tbsp tamari sauce
1 tbsp coconut sugar
Lime wedges to serve
To prepare the curry, combine all ingredients in a foods processor and pulse or you could use mortar and pestle- which is by far more work! Set aside.
Heat the coconut oil in a large sauté pan, and add the curry; cook over medium heat for 1 minute until the mixture becomes fragrant. Add the mushrooms and cook for 1 minute, stirring consistently. Add the coconut milk to the pan with the vegetable stock and bring to a boil; cook for an additional 5 minutes or so. Add the snap peas and sprouts and cook for another 1 minute.
Taste and add soy sauce and sugar, if needed. Serve on a bed of quinoa and garnish with lime and cilantro.