Red curry with winter vegetables and cashews

January 2, 2012 at 2:22 pm (B plus (3.5 stars, like a lot), Derek's faves, East and SE Asia, Fall recipes, Nancie McDermott, Quick weeknight recipe, Root vegetables, Seitan, soup, Starches, Winter recipes)

Back in Pittsburgh I used to make this recipe several times each winter.  This dish has all four essential Thai tastes: sweet, salty, spicy, and sour. It tastes just like the curry you’d get in a restaurant, except the addition of vegetable broth results in a lighter dish that’s less overwhelmingly rich. The crunchy cashews make a nice textural contrast to the silky broth and creamy-soft vegetables.  Based on a recipe from Nancie McDermott’s Real Vegetarian Thai.
This recipe requires 1 can (14 oz) unsweetened coconut milk (about 1 3/4 cup). Shake it well before opening. In a saucepan bring to a gentle boil over medium heat:

  • 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk

Cook, stirring occasionally, until it thickens and releases a sweet fragrance, about 3 minutes. Add:

Cook the curry paste for another 3 minutes, stirring as needed to combine curry paste with coconut milk.  Next add:

  • rest of the can of coconut milk
  • 1 cup unsalted vegetable stock (add more for a more soupy, less rich dish)
  • 1 Tbs. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced (or cut into fat chunks)
  • 1.5 – 2 pounds assorted winter vegetables such as parsnips, carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, white potatoes, turnips, peeled if necessary, and cut into approximately 1-inch chunks.
  • 1 cup seitan, cut into bite-sized chunks (optional–if you use the seitan you may want to use a smaller amount of veggies)

Bring to an active boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender but not mushy, about 15 minutes. (The cooking time will depend heavily on the size of your vegetable chunks.)  When the veggies are almost tender, remove from heat and add:

  • 1 cup shredded green cabbage (optional, my own addition)
  • 3/4 cup salted, dry-roasted cashews
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • lime juice to taste (or serve with lime wedges)

Let stand for 5 minutes. Serve hot or warm.  Serves 6 to 8 according to McDermott.

My notes:  

  • If you cut the onion into thin slices as McDermott instructs, you end up with very soft kind of wormy onions in the final dish.  I find them a bit unappealing, so I often cut my onion into large chunks.  They still end up very soft but not as wromy.
  • Carrots are a bit harder than the other veggies, and thus should be cut a bit larger, so that they all cook in the same amount of time.  McDermott says to peel the veggies but I usually don’t, not even the sweet potatoes.  I’d peel only a squash with a very hard skin.
  • Other vegetables are delicious too. I especially like cauliflower, but you can also add broccoli or mushrooms.  But make sure you add these quicker cooking veggies only towards the end of cooking, as they will be overcooked after fifteen minutes.
  • McDermott calls for only 1 pound of veggies, but that’s just one small parsnip, medium carrot, and very small sweet potato.  Not much for 6-8 servings!  I usually add more, but then you either have to add enough vegetable broth that all the veggies get covered or stir the veggies occasionally while they’re simmering.
  • I don’t think the seitan adds all that much in terms of flavor, but Derek likes the textural contrast, and it makes the dish more filling.
  • If you like cilantro you can double the amount.  I’ve added a packed 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro before.  I liked it but Derek said it was too much.
  • McDermott’s recipe doesn’t call for lime juice, but I think some acid is necessary to balance the sweetness of all the root vegetables
  • This dish is soupy but too rich to be eaten as a soup.  I usually serve it over rice.
  • If you have curry paste, seitan, and washed cilantro on hand, this dish could be a quick weeknight meal.
Rating: B/B+
Derek: A-


  1. Miso tahini soup with turnips and delicata squash | The captious vegetarian said,

    […] them raw in salads, in soup (with leeks, potatoes, and chard), and in stews (like this tagine or Thai curry).  But I had one last delicata squash from the fall that was turning soft and needed to get used […]

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