I was home in Rhode Island last week for the holidays. There was lots of family and friend time, adventuring with my sister, running on the beach and good food. Living alone I cook most meals for one (and make up for it with weekend get togethers and dinner parties) so it was a treat to have people to cook for every day. My family loves when I cook and they’re happy to be guinea pigs when I’m trying new techniques and flavors in the kitchen. There were very green lunches, smoothies, dark chocolate truffles, persimmon cinnamon buns on Christmas morning and pancakes and waffles that my family was shocked to find out were vegan (win!).
I’m back in Vermont now and when I’m cooking weeknight meals for myself I love to use easy techniques and pantry staples that result in quick, tasty and healthful meals (bonus points if it leads to a few days of leftovers). This curry checks all my boxes. A friend texted me a few weeks ago asking for a good curry recipe and I realized I didn’t have a go to. I make curry flavored soups with coconut milk, vegetables and chickpeas (coming soon) all the time but a hearty curry style sauce served over rice wasn’t in my weekly rotation…until now. You probably have most of these ingredients in your pantry and can have a delicious dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes.
The dish starts by sautéing onions, garlic, ginger, chile pepper and spices in coconut oil, which is up there on my list of the best smells in the world. Then I add in chunks of carrots, but this is a great way to use up any vegetables that have been sitting in the fridge or pantry too long – squash, cauliflower, potatoes etc. would all be great. Then I add a can of coconut milk and a can of fire-roasted tomatoes and simmer until the vegetables are tender. You can stop here. The curry is delicious all on it’s own and a big piece of crusty bread, pita or naan would do just fine for mopping up the sauce.
I took this one a bit further by serving it over wild rice and topping it with crispy tofu. Like many, it took me awhile to become a fan of tofu. It gets a bad rap, but when cooked correctly it’s delicious and has become one of my main sources for protein. You’ll probably hear me talk about my tofu cooking method many times here - my trick is double bake the tofu. I put it in the oven at a high temp with oil, salt and pepper for about 20 minutes, then smother it in sauce and put it back in the oven for another 10 minutes. The result is super flavorful, crispy tofu that I love to put in salads, wraps, noodle bowls and curries :)
carrot coconut curry with crispy tofu
Notes - I use carrots here but this is a great dish to use up any vegetables in the fridge or pantry – squash, cauliflower, potatoes etc. would all be delicious. I used four different spices to make a curry blend but if you don’t have these spices on hand, 1 tbs of curry powder will work just fine. The curry is delicious all on it’s own mopped up with a piece of crusty bread or naan but the rice and tofu make the dish a bit heartier, up to you!
for the tofu
1 package extra firm tofu
1 tbs high heat cooking oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tbs honey
½ cup soy sauce
for the rice
2 cups rice of your choice
4 cups water
for the curry
1 tsp coconut oil
1 small yellow onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 inch piece of ginger, minced
1 chile or jalepeno pepper, minced (seeds and veins removed if you like things on the milder side)
1 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp coriander, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp cardamom OR 1 tbs curry powder
5 carrots, chopped
1 15oz can full fat coconut milk
1 28oz can fire roasted tomatoes
cilantro, scallions, peanuts, lime
If you do dairy, a dollop of yogurt would be delicious
Preheat oven to 425
Cut tofu into strips or cubes and toss with high heat cooking oil, salt and pepper. Roast on a parchment lined baking sheet for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile make tofu sauce and cook rice. Boil 4 cups of water. When water is boiling add 2 cups of rice and turn down to a simmer for 15-20 minutes until rice is tender. For tofu sauce, whisk together honey and soy sauce and set aside.
Heat coconut oil over medium heat in a large sauté pan or dutch oven. Add onion, garlic, ginger and chile and cook until onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add in spices, salt and pepper and cook for another 2-3 minutes until spices are toasted and fragrant. Add chopped carrot and cook for another minute then add coconut milk and fire roasted tomatoes and simmer, uncovered for 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
After tofu has been cooking for 20 minutes, remove it from the oven and pour the sauce over it. Toss tofu with the sauce to make sure all pieces are evenly coated. Place tofu back it the oven for 10 minutes or until crispy.
Put a serving of rice in each bowl, top with the curry and a few pieces of crispy tofu. Sprinkle peanuts, cilantro and scallions on top, a fresh squeeze of lime is delicious too. Enjoy!