Vegetarian Peanut Curry

This vegetarian curry is an easy way to get your Thai fix.
This vegetarian curry is an easy way to get your Thai fix.
This vegetarian curry is an easy way to get your Thai fix.

Paul’s out of town this weekend, so that means I get to eat whatever I want! I’ll try not to be too jubilant. Really, he eats almost everything I put in front of him, few questions asked. But there are a couple of foods he just doesn’t care for, so I avoid cooking them when he’s around. This recipe uses one of those foods: sweet potatoes.

The recipe is based on this one from Just a Pinch, which combines peanut butter, coconut milk and lime juice into a Thai-style curry sauce to smother the chicken and vegetables. While the original is delicious in its own right, I needed to make a meatless version on Friday in observation of Lent. So, instead of the chicken I added chickpeas and more veggies–including my beloved sweet potato.

Of course, you can throw in whatever protein or vegetables you have available. Because seriously, anything smothered in this sauce is going to be delicious.

Vegetarian Peanut Curry

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dry brown rice
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 1/2 a large onion, sliced into half moons
  • a handful of fresh green beans, ends removed and cut in half
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/3 cup crunch peanut butter, or 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter (I like Jif Natural) + 2 tbsp chopped peanuts
  • 1 15-oz can coconut milk (shake well before opening–I used Taste of Thai)
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tbsp red chili paste, or to taste (if you don’t have chili paste, try a mixture of sriracha and red pepper flakes)
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil or cilantro, optional

Steps

  1. Start the rice. Combine the rice, a pinch of salt and 1 1/2 cups of water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, uncovered. Stir once, put the lid on the pot and turn the heat to low. Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the pot sit for at least 15 more minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a large pan over medium heat. Add the oil and heat until shimmering. Add the sweet potato cubes and cook about 5 minutes.

    Cook the sweet potato over medium heat until easily pierced with a fork. Adjust the heat up or down as needed.
    Cook the sweet potato over medium heat until easily pierced with a fork. Adjust the heat up or down as needed.
  3. Add the sliced onion and mix it in with the sweet potato. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the potato softens and the cubes are easily pierced with a fork.

    Add the onion to the pan after the sweet potato has cooked for a few minutes on its own.
    Add the onion to the pan after the sweet potato has cooked for a few minutes on its own.
  4. As the vegetables cook, prepare the sauce. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, peanuts, coconut milk, lime juice, brown sugar, chili paste, and basil or cilantro. Taste it to check the spice level. One tablespoon of chili paste produces a nice burn; I use a heaping tablespoon for a little more heat. Start with less if you like less spicy food.

    Whisk together the sauce ingredients and be sure to taste! It will thicken in the pan.
    Whisk together the sauce ingredients and be sure to taste! It looks thin now, but will thicken in the pan.
  5. When the potato is barely cooked through, add the green beans and stir them into the rest of the veggies. Cook for 2-3 minutes then add the chickpeas to warm through. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the green beans soften and turn bright green.

    Cook the chickpeas witCook the vegetables until the green beans turn bright green--that's the "crisp tender" stage. h the rest of the vegetables for a few minutes to warm them through.
    Cook the vegetables until the green beans turn bright green–that’s the “crisp tender” stage.
  6. Give the sauce another stir and pour it into the pan. Stir to combine. Raise the heat to high and bring everything to a boil. Then, turn it down to low and simmer until the sauce thickens, 6-8 minutes.

    I love how the sauce strikes a balance between sweet and spicy. You'll want to smother everything with it.
    I love how the sauce strikes a balance between sweet and spicy. You’ll want to smother everything with it.
  7. Fluff the rice with a fork and divide it into four bowls. Spoon the curry over the rice. Top with additional chopped peanuts, basil or cilantro.

The sauce is really the star of this recipe. It strikes the perfect balance between sweet and just spicy enough, and it’s absolutely delicious on rice, meat and/or vegetables. Enjoy!

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