This post is part of a series, Healthy Vegetarian Mains
So the secret's out. I love coconut. Coconut milk, coconut oil, fresh coconut, shredded, whatever.
I can't stay away from the stuff. I've made Caribbean Coconut black beans and vegetables over rice, I've made Thai Pumpkin Soup (with coconut milk, of course) and now this Coconut Curry Vegetables with Coconut rice, a double whammy of coconut. Considering I haven't really posted many main dishes here, that's quite a lot of the stuff..
It's not such a bad thing to love. Coconut meat is full of fiber and vitamins, coconut water is popping up everywhere as an electrolyte filled drink, and coconut oil has a ton on nutritional benefits.
This is a dish I make often. It's super fast, easy to make, and versatile. Sometimes I make it with only vegetables, and sometimes I include shrimp. It would also be tasty with chicken added.
This dish is full of flavor. I use a mild curry powder, but you could use a spicier version. I also use just a pinch of crushed red pepper, but you could use more. I'm not so good with the spicy food, but if you like things hot and spicy, it's perfect served with this creamy, and mild coconut rice.
I like to make rice in the oven. I have an electric stove I don't always get along with, so by cooking it in the oven prevents any scorching on the bottom of my pan, me worrying if the heat is low enough, and wondering when it's done. Plus, it's a no brainer. Put it in for a half an hour, take it out, let it sit for a few minutes, done. Not a scorched pan in sight. Only perfect, fluffy, delicious rice.
Of course you don't need to make coconut rice, you could use water instead of the coconut milk. The coconut milk adds just a slight coconut flavor, and a rich and creaminess that I'm in love with. If you want to boost the coconut flavor of the rice, then add the optional toasted unsweetened shredded coconut. Make sure to buy light coconut milk for the rice, using the regular variety makes the rice too heavy, and slightly greasy.
Coconut Curry Vegetables With Coconut Rice
Ingredients for vegetables
2 Tablespoons olive oil, or other neutral oil
one onion sliced, I used a white onion
one bell pepper, I used a half of a red one, and half of a yellow one this time, sliced thinly
2 cups (300 g) sugar snap peas (I used the kind in a bag ready to use)
2 cups (300 g) assorted stir fry vegetables (I used the kind from a bag, already cut up)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp curry powder (I used mild)
1 Tablespoon sugar
pinch of crushed red pepper, or up to 1/4 or 1/2 tsp if you like things spicy (if you aren't very familiar with this, add it gradually, it can get hot fast.)
1 cup (236 ml) light coconut milk from a can (a 13.5 oz can is 2 cups) freeze the rest in a ziplock bag for another use, if desired
2 Tablespoons (30 ml) fresh lime juice
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1 Tablespoon (15 ml) cold water
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro-optional
salt to taste
Ingredients for rice
1 cup (8 oz) (210 g) rice- I used Jasmine, any type would work, if you use brown rice it may need to cook a little longer
2 cups (473 ml) light coconut milk- (one 13.5 oz can is about 2 cups)
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (38 g) unsweetened shredded coconut-you can find this at health food stores-toasted lightly-(optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, or 180 Celsius. Rinse the rice well in a fine mesh strainer under cold water. Place the rice in a covered oven safe dish, or a covered pan safe for the oven. Heat the coconut milk in a pan or in the microwave. When the coconut milk is at a simmer add it to the rice with the salt.
Place the covered rice in the oven for 30 minutes. While this is cooking make the vegetables.
Get your mise en place ready. Get your cut vegetables ready to use next to the stove. (Once you start cooking this, it goes fast.) Get your garlic minced and ready to go, and measure out the spices in a little bowl. In another small bowl, mix the cornstarch and tablespoon of water to make a cornstarch slurry, set aside.
In a large skillet over medium high heat, add the oil to your pan and start cooking the onion, bell pepper and sugar snap peas, (and any other vegetables you might be using that take a while to cook) add a pinch or two of salt, and cook until the vegetables begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds more.
Add your spices, the cumin, coriander, curry powder and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 minute. Add the 1 cup coconut milk and sugar. Bring to a boil. Add the other quick cooking vegetables you may be using, in my case it was the stir fry vegetables, which were kale and other very small cut veg, so they didn't take very long to cook.
Cook for 2-3 minutes until vegetables are to your desired tenderness. Add the lime juice. Get your cornstarch slurry, stir it first, then add it to the pot. Stir it all together and bring to a boil. When the sauce has thickened it's done. Taste it and see if it needs salt, if it does, add it. Keep it warm until the rice is done.
After the rice has cooked for 30 minutes, let it sit on the counter for 10 minutes. Then add the toasted coconut (if using) and stir together to distribute. .
Serve the vegetables and sauce with the coconut rice. Top individual portions with the chopped cilantro. (if using.)
.If you want to make Coconut Curry Shrimp, substitute one pound of raw shrimp for the 2 cups of stir fry vegetables. Add them when you would add the quick cooking vegetables. Or use cooked shrimp and add it last, just stir it to get it hot.
If you want to make Coconut Curry Chicken, substitute 2 cups cooked chicken in strips or cubes, for the stir fry vegetables and add it at the end, stirring it to warm it in the sauce.