I suspect until December, you’re going to keep hearing about how busy my life is. Rest assured I have been cooking delicious things and not just subsisting off of only instant ramen. The garden is still going, with peppers and carrots and herbs currently and beets and daikon in the works. However, my slow cooker has become one of my best friends. I can throw stuff in there and leave it alone while I study and have delicious food for the week.
One of my favorite recipes I made recently in the slow cooker was slow cooker lasagne. Here’s the original recipe. I’ll admit, I did use jarred spaghetti sauce because I was short on time. However, I mixed zucchini, poblano peppers, mushrooms, onions, garlic, and fresh basil into the ricotta mixture and that made it quite tasty and special. Easy as pie, except that it’s sort of hard to fit lasagne noodles into an oval shaped slow cooker.
Another favorite recipe I tried was lentil meatballs . I substituted laughing cow cheese for ricotta and add a ton more fresh herbs, but they came out fantastic and were freezable in individual ziplocs for whenever I heated up jarred sauce.
I’ll admit that on the part time vegetarian front as of late, I’ve been a little slackery. Making the kind of vegetarian food I like takes time, which can be lacking. I’ll keep trying, though, because there are too many reasons and benefits to not at least reduce my meat consumption.
Along that line, I recently discovered a brand of Thai curry paste that doesn’t contain shrimp paste (like most curry pastes do): Amoy-D. My only beef with it is that I always have to add sugar to the curry because the curry paste itself is more savory than the ones I’m used to. Today I made panang curry with fried tofu, butternut squash, apples and mango. This time the fruit helped sweeten it up so I didn’t need to add sugar.
Curry is so versatile…you can put just about anything in it really, sort of like fried rice. Why fried tofu? Because frying gives it a better texture and allows it to soak up more sauce/curry/whatever.
I made a big batch for my lunches for this week, because that’s what I do nowadays…make huge batches of something tasty and force myself to eat it for 3-5 days.
- 1 cup of extra firm tofu cut into dice-sized cubes
- 1-2 cups of vegetable or peanut oil for frying
- 1 can coconut milk
- 1/4 cup panang curry paste (more or less, depending on your tastes)
- 1 butternut squash, peeled with seeds removed and cut into large chunks (3″ or so)
- 2 carrots, cut into half coins
- 3 lime leaves (preferably kaffir, but if you have regular lime leaves it’s better than nothing)
- 3 coins ginger or galangal
- 2 small red peppers, cut into rings
- 1 bunch green onions
- 1 apple, cut into cubes
- 1/2 cup frozen mango chunks (or fresh)
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- 2/3 cup Thai basil leaves (substitute regular basil if you have to I guess)
- 2/3 cup cilantro leaves
First, dry the tofu and cut it into the dice sized cubes. Drying it is important! This way it won’t splatter quite as much when you fry it. If you want to be extra careful, you can squeeze as much water out of the tofu as possible and then dry it after you cut it into dice cubes too.
Heat the oil in a pot or wok until a drop of water added to the pan splatters. Add tofu, stir constantly until tofu is golden brown and looks sort of like little sponges. Remove and drain on paper towels. Set aside.
Add the coconut milk to a good sized soup pot and add water to thin it to the consistency somewhere between paste and milk. Heat on medium. Add the curry paste and blend it in with a spoon or spatula.
Add in the harder vegetables: butternut and carrot. Also add the lime leaves and ginger coins. If using non-kaffir lime leaves, smoosh them up a bit in your hands before adding to the pot to release more of the essential oils.
Let this cook for a couple of minutes at a low simmer, until the butternut is cooked to where it is soft enough to be cut with a fork. Then add in the herbs (basil, cilantro) at the last minute. Turn off the heat and mix well.
A thank you to whoever actually reads this blog. May all your tasty dreams come true!