Tuesday, April 5, 2011

My Old Pal Curry

Today was a slow cooker dinner kind of day, since I had a meeting in another town during the usual cooking hour. While prepping my chosen recipe this morning, I realized that I had not yet included it in my blog collection, an omission that surprised me once it had come to my attention, as I've made it many times, and I'm not one for repeating dinners. (My husband has been known to opine that we never have the same dinner twice.) I may love to explore the seemingly endless possibilities, but occasionally it's time for a stand-by pal like Chickpea and Vegetable Curry.

I do love this vivid stew. Back in our days on the farm with Dave's plain-eating parents, it was the first dinner that came to mind when they went out of town, and I could cook whatever meat-free, vegetable-heavy, exotically spiced dinner I wanted.  We reveled in it then, and still love it now.  And we're not the only ones.  I've shared it with a goodly number of people who have also enjoyed it.  Some have asked for the recipe as well.  Again, I am mystified that I am only now getting around to recording such a winner. 

I found the recipe in Cooking Light a few years back, shortly after I decided that the slow cooker needed to become my new favorite kitchen tool and sanity saver.  The ingredient list is long, but that's the only daunting part.  The chopping and sauteeing can be done the night before if necessary, which it was in my formerly busy life.  After that modicum of work, the prepped mixture can be stored in the refrigerator in your slow cooker's removable crock. (If yours isn't removable, it would be a worthwhile investment to purchase one so made.) In the morning, pop the crock into its base, turn on the heat, and go about your business.

In the evening, come home to the saturating fragrance of curry and a bowl of flavorful, colorful, nutritious goodness that only requires the stirring in of some spinach and coconut milk to be ready for belly filling.  If you're feeling fancy, cook up some couscous or rice over which to ladle it.  (OK, you could also eat it with saltine crackers, as my husband did in my absence, but I'm not recommending that approach.) 

In case you have picky eaters who may experience anxiety over curry, rest assured that the printed version minus serrano chile, which is my forced version since they aren't available in my local grocery store, is mild.  If you want to pump up the spice volume, use the serrano, or increase the curry powder and/or ground red pepper.  I'm sure the vegetable content could be adapted to what is on hand, too, although I have somehow not tried that yet. 

After taste and nutrition, the plus is quantity--six servings worth. If you don't have a big family, that's enough to eat for days or to take for lunch, which will probably make co-workers ask enviously "So, what are you having?" 

Chickpea and Vegetable Curry
from Cooking Light

Serves: 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 cup (1/4-inch-thick) slices carrot
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 serrano chile, seeded and minced
3 cups cooked chickpeas (2 cans)
1 1/2 cups cubed peeled baking potato
1 cups coarsely chopped green bell pepper
1 cup (1-inch) cut green beans
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (14-ounce) can vegetable or chicken broth
3 cups fresh baby spinach
1 cup light coconut milk
Lemon wedges

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat; add onion and carrot; cover and cook 5 minutes or until tender.  Add curry powder and next 4 ingredients; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Place onion mixture in a 5-quart electric slow cooker.  Stir in chickpeas and next 8 ingredients.  If you're prepping ahead, store in refrigerator at this point.  If not, or when ready, cover and cook on high-heat setting for 6 hours or on low-heat setting for 8-9 hours.  Adds spinach and coconut milk; stir until spinach wilts.  Serve with lemon wedges.

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