April 2017 Culinary Creations

A Healthy, Impressive Farm-to-Table Dinner

Spice up your dinner table with this exotic, easy dish which can utilize all the vegetables from your garden or the local farmer’s market. Throughout the world, diners are embracing the “farm-to-table” movement, and restaurants are responding by modifying their menus to offer more locally grown fruits and vegetables. Termed “paddock-to-plate” in Australia, the focus remains the same, integrating more awareness on healthy, fresh menu options and sustainability. Even high-end restaurants are offering produce from their own gardens, as evidenced by the sign at Aire Valley restaurant in Victoria, where the menu reminds diners: “While you wait, your vegetables are growing.”

Asian cultures have embraced the farm-to-table movement for centuries, and menus at those restaurants are overflowing with a variety of locally grown vegetable dishes. Popular favorites include the red curry and green curry dishes, which are simply fresh vegetables stir-fried in a thick, flavorful sauce personalized to your spice level. The healthy sauce is a base of coconut milk, which is lactose free, vegan, rich in calcium and contains a substance called lauric acid, which has both antiviral and antibacterial properties. In the recipe below, a combination of regular and reduced-fat coconut milk keeps all the flavor and lowers the fat. Best of all, this delicious curry meal costs half the price of a curry from your favorite Thai restaurant, and dinner can be on the table in far less time than it takes you to order online!

Red Curry Vegetables over Brown Rice

Ready in less than 30 minutes, this impressive dish is not only delicious, but it can be made mild to extra spicy, simply with the addition of more red curry paste. Located in the Asian section of national supermarkets, this inexpensive paste gives your curry depth of flavor and a pretty color. Optional chicken, tofu or beef can be added for extra protein. Serve over thin noodles, on a bed of white rice or try nutritious brown rice, which provides beneficial fiber and vital nutrients from the rice germ, which is removed when white rice is created.

Ingredients

1 cup broccoli florets

1 cup sliced carrots

½ cup sliced red pepper

½ cup green pea pods

½ cup sliced onions

½ cup mushrooms of choice

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon fresh minced garlic (or garlic salt)

1-3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste

1½ cups coconut milk (full fat)

1½ cups low-fat coconut milk

1-4 tablespoons corn starch

2-3 cups instant brown rice

2-3 cups water for rice preparation

Directions

Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat; heat garlic in oil about 15 seconds. Add vegetables; sauté until vegetables are tender crisp and starting to soften, about 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in all coconut milk, curry paste (to taste) and salt. Bring sauce to boil; reduce heat. Simmer 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally to blend flavors. Stir in corn starch to thicken sauce, beginning with 1 tablespoon, increasing by additional tablespoons, to desired level of thickness. Simmer additional 5 minutes.

While sauce is simmering, prepare rice according to package directions (Note: For faster rice preparation, there are “instant” quick cook varieties of brown rice). Serve curry sauce over bed of rice, with soy sauce on the side. Enjoy!

Yield:4-6 servings. Calories (per serving): 320; Fat:16g; Protein: 11g Cost Per Serving: $2.43

Suzette Zara is an author, nutritionist, a frequent speaker on low-fat healthy cooking and creator of Satan’s Salsa (SatansSalsa.com). Suzette@SuzetteZara.com.