Living a plant-based lifestyle ends up overloading your refrigerator from time to time with fruits, vegetables, random condiments, and the occasional exotic ingredient. By the time I come back to them since they were hastily put in the fridge after my too many retail therapy sessions, they may be on the verge of sprouting, rotting, or hopefully , to age and turn into a whole new product. . This is actually how I figured out that forgetting regular vegan cheese in the fridge for too long could actually turn into fake gorgonzola flavored cheese, but I digress.
Faced with this cleaning dilemma lately, my solution is usually to make a soup, stew, or pasta dish. This time I tasted like curry so I proceeded to unload whatever was hiding in the back of the fridge and threw them all on the counter to separate out what could pass the texture test and odor and discard the rest.
I had boiled green bananas which had accompanied an ackee dish a few days before. I found shishito peppers that were still bright green and tight lime green that I had big plans for in a complex Japanese dish that I had threatened to make, but never materialized. I also found “twister peppers” which were red, green and yellow and still striking in the various Rasta color hues after lying around in the fridge for over a week.
They don’t have a spiciness like bell peppers, so I would treat them as such. I had never heard of or seen them before noticing them next to regular peppers in a big box store, so I decided to try them, but never had time to make a meal of them. honest.
It happens quite often in the life of a cook, and especially when the most exciting thing you can find to do in this new normal is to browse the aisles of local grocery stores. I also found some green beans, fresh baby spinach, and asparagus, so I decided to add those too along with some tomatoes that had seen better days, but were still good enough to give some flavor and flat color.
Whenever I make curry, or as some call it a curry stew, I approach the dish based on how quickly the main additions will be cooked. If the main ingredients are long-term, like chicken, goat, or lamb, I’ll put it all in the pot at the same time.
The flavors will develop and come together over time as the proteins release their collagen and all the other scientifically named qualities into the slow and slow cooking liquid, to create a curry sauce, gravy, stew complex and utterly delicious – whichever term you’re most happy with. (There are many debates between cooks from different parts of the world who might cringe hearing the dish be called a goat curry rather than a curried goat or maybe even a lamb stew).
When using quick cooking dishes such as seafood or vegetables, I prepare the curry base first, then add the main courses once the curry has developed its flavor enough.
To make the base I use potatoes, vegetable stock, curry powder and other aromatics and simmer for a while. The beauty of this method is that after developing the curry base you are only limited by your imagination as to what you can add to it, so it’s a great method of cooking quick curries, especially if you prepare the base in advance. and divide it into small batches and store it in your fridge or freezer.
In this case, I cut the boiled green bananas diagonally. I sautéed them for a few minutes in coconut oil to get some color to add some extra character to the dish. I did the same with the shishito peppers and the twister peppers. I then added them to the curry and served it with a steaming bowl of brown rice.
4 tablespoons coconut oil
1 large yellow onion, sliced
1 large chef’s potato, medium diced
10 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 tablespoons curry powder
1 teaspoon turmeric, ground
1 tablespoon ginger, chopped
1 teaspoon Scotch Bonnet pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon allspice, ground
½ teaspoon Asafetida powder
2 sprigs of thyme, fresh
2 cups of vegetable broth
2 teaspoons of salt
½ cup coconut milk
½ cup boiled green bananas, sautéed and sliced on the bias
1 cup bell peppers, cut into bite-size pieces and sautéed
1 cup green beans, halved
1 cup asparagus, cut in thirds
1 cup baby spinach, tightly packed
½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved
10 shishito peppers, sautéed and left whole with the stem
In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, add the coconut oil and add the onions.
Sweat the onions for 3 minutes, then add the potatoes.
Cook for another 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add the garlic.
After 1 more minute, add the curry, turmeric, ginger, scotch bonnet, allspice, asafetida and thyme. Increase the heat to medium-high, stir the pan and add the vegetable broth, coconut milk and salt.
Simmer for about 10 minutes until the potatoes are cooked through but not falling apart. Reduce the heat to low and mash a few diced potatoes with a fork and stir to thicken the mixture. Add all the vegetables and stir into the curry base until heated through and serve.
Culinary Institute of America alumnus Nigel Spence was born in Kingston, Jamaica. Nigel was a freelancer at the Television Food Network for 3 years where he worked with culinary luminaries such as Bobby Flay and Emeril Lagasse. Chef Spence appeared twice on Throwdown with Bobby Flay where he emerged victorious in the kitchen against the Food Network star and was featured on CBS when he appeared on Tony’s Table as well as ABC’s Neighborhood Eats, NBC’s The Today Show, Sirius’ Everyday Living with Martha Stewart and TVFN’s Chopped. The acclaimed, New York Times-rated Ripe Kitchen and Bar is Mr. Spence’s first entrepreneurial project.