I don’t know about you, but I’m at that hopeful stage at the end of winter/beginning of spring where it seems like things can only get better from here on out. Logically, this is kind of true. Spring will come, then lead into beautiful summer. It happens every year. But sometimes, we find ourselves so worn out from the winter, or so worn out from the false starts of spring, that these hopes are dashed. I can’t even make up a good excuse for last year, when it snowed (heavily) right up until May 4th.
This year, though, things are looking up. I returned from my vacation in Florida full of vitamin D…and, unfortunately, dread for the winter that was still here waiting for me. But then something weird happened. It started getting nicer out. In fact, when I saw Arcade Fire last week, I dressed up in my formal wear and my mask made of mirrors (Reflektor, anyone?), and then left my jacket in the car and actually walked, semi-comfortably, around downtown to get to Target Center. We even went out of our way to get dinner ahead of time, and then walked back. Outside. Without a winter jacket.
Perhaps my spirits were too high because I love Arcade Fire, but I’d venture to say that, after a winter full of 50+ negative degree days, this appropriate, spring-like weather feels pretty good. Good enough to make me want to eat fresh vegetables again. Gone are the days that hibernation foods appeal to me*; friends, I am ready for something a little bit healthier. Heaping with vegetables and protein, packed with coconut and red curry flavors, balancing the fine line of spicy and sweet, this dish is just what I am craving this days.
One Year: Cranberry Hazelnut Granola
Thai Red Curry with Coconut Rice
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 cup jasmine rice
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 – 2 cups water
2 tbsp coconut oil, divided
1 lb chicken breasts (about 2)
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 red bell peppers, diced
2 large carrots, sliced into thin rounds
1 1/2 – 2 tbsp red curry paste
1 can coconut milk
1 cup vegetable broth
1 tbsp brown sugar
pinch red pepper flakes (or more, if you want heat)
1-2 drops fish sauce
juice of half a lime
To garnish: tons of fresh, chopped basil and lime quarters for squeezing
COCONUT RICE: In a medium pot, melt the coconut oil. Add the rice and salt and stir. Add 1/2 cup of water, just enough to cover the rice. Cover and simmer on medium-low until incorporated. Add another 1/2 cup of water and repeat, stirring in between. At this point, the rice should start to become tender; begin adding 1/4 cups of water in increments, stirring and tasting in between, until the rice is fully cooked. Remove from heat, place in a bowl, and set aside.
CURRY: In a medium saucepan, heat 1 tbsp coconut oil until melted on medium-high. Meanwhile, season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Add chicken breasts. Sear them to create browning, about 2 minutes each side. Turn the heat down to medium-low and cover to finish cooking, about 6 more minutes. When the chicken is fully cooked, let rest on a cutting board for a few minutes, then cut into pieces. Saute the onions in the same saucepan you used to cook the chicken (this creates delicious flavor). When the onions become translucent, add the carrots and bell peppers. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, combine red curry paste with 1/2 cup coconut milk on medium heat, stirring to combine. Once combined, add the rest of the coconut milk and the broth. Add the brown sugar, red pepper flakes, fish sauce, and lime juice, stirring to incorporate. Transfer the cooked vegetables to this mixture and reduce the heat to low. Cover and let simmer for about 5 minutes, until the liquid has thickened slightly. Add the chicken and season to taste with more salt and pepper. Portion out the rice on large plates, ladling the curry mixture on top. Top with fresh basil and serve with lime quarters for even more flavor.
*I apologize, because that is obviously a lie. Go with it for now.