I still have to blog about the spaghetti squash I made a while back. But I’m rush-blogging about last night’s curry because it was SO GOOD. Maybe the best random-jumble invented dinner I’ve made yet. And when I finish this post, I’m going to eat the leftovers for lunch. So let’s get to it.
I mentioned last week that a pumpkin yellow curry was on the docket. At the time, Sam was planning on making it, with shrimp and chicken. But we ended up going to dinner with friends on Friday and Saturday nights, so it got pushed to a later date.
Meanwhile, a few things happened. A) I was reading this article on The Hairpin about nutrition, and everybody was talking about making wonderful veggie sautes (especially bean-related). B) I realized I have really missed making those types of creations. C) I went to the Hollywood Farmers’ Market. D) I was sick of always using Soyaki as my saute sauce. E) I decided to eat less meat, so I’m sort of the opposite of a kosher person… eating meat at restaurants, but not so much at home. (For now.)
So I picked up haricots vert (to me that sounds like a man’s name… Harry Covert, pronounced “co-vair” because he’s a French spy) and tiny colorful potatoes at the market, and went to Trader Joe’s and bought a bunch of other supplemental vegetables, many of them pre-cut and pre-washed. (I’m a little bit lazy, still.) I also bought their pre-made Thai Yellow Curry sauce, along with some organic pumpkin.
The craziest decision was to buy a big purple eggplant. I don’t know exactly what possessed me, but I was like — never cooked an eggplant, need to cook an eggplant! Today! Also, Sam doesn’t like eggplant. So I never get it in Sam-cooked dishes. (This was my “Elysse does whatever she wants” curry.)
When I got home I googled “how do I cook an eggplant” just to make sure there weren’t any secrets, and it turned out that there WERE secrets. Well, one secret, according to a lot of sources: You have to salt an eggplant, to ensure that it doesn’t come out greasy/bitter/too water-y.
So I sliced the eggplant, dashed kosher salt over both sides, and sat it out to “sweat” for an hour.
You can see that a lot of water leached out onto the paper towels. Eggplants aren’t juicy when you cut into them, so that’s entirely the salting at work.
After an hour I wiped off the salt, quickly rinsed each slice, and pressed them all with a paper towel. I only ended up using half the eggplant, because I was worried about having enough room in the saute pan. (Everything shrinks when cooked, so by the end I was like… ugh, should have used more.)
Here’s the rest of what I used. (I ended up nixing the eggs.)
For those playing at home, I used (in order of flinging into the pan): Extra virgin olive oil, Trader Joe’s garlic/shallot/onion dice, mushrooms, eggplant, broccoli & cauliflower florets, tiny colored potatoes, haricots vert, kidney beans. In whatever quantity seemed appropriate, so that I could fit everything into the pan.
It made for a beautiful autumn mix of colors.
After everything was in, I added some water to give the veggies more time to cook without starting to burn. Once the water boiled off, I put in… maybe a cup of the Trader Joe’s organic pumpkin and a half-bottle of the yellow curry? Maybe a little more. I just eyed it. The pumpkin wasn’t particularly smooth, so I used the curry to break it down.
Then, because I wanted to give the curry time to seep into the veggies (and the veggies more time to soften), I covered the sautee pan with a cookie sheet (MacGyver-style… an upgrade from using aluminum foil) for ten minutes.
During that ten minutes, I did various things. Washed a bra. Texted with my friend Karen in NYC, who was waiting for Hurricane Sandy whilst making a low-fat creamy fennel soup (stay safe!). Thought about how trendy fennel is. (I had it for the first time this year. Big fan.) Watched a few minutes of “Go On” On Demand. Enjoyed the smell of my simmering curry.
And then… it was ready to be unveiled!
I was particularly proud of how the eggplant turned out, since the internets had cautioned me that cooking eggplant is tricky. Also — it looks so different when it’s cooked. Until the end, I was like — you aren’t looking right, eggplant. But then it all worked out.
I didn’t add any extra seasoning. I think the yellow curry sauce does the heavy lifting. But there was probably also a bunch of residual salt in the eggplant, so I erred on the side of doing nothing until I tasted it. And I liked the taste. So that was that.
(Speaking of taste… don’t let the pumpkin scare you. It doesn’t make the curry taste like pie or anything. It just adds a creamy richness to it… without actual cream. Score!)
I served the veggies over some Trader Joe’s 3-minute microwave brown rice. Usually when Sam makes a curry we eat it sans rice, because it’s just sort of a filler. But I was having an “Elysse does whatever she wants” dinner. So rice was made! (Also… I wanted to finally use the 3-minute rice that has been sitting in my freezer.)
I also like to add some rice to the mix when beans are involved, because I remember learning in high school biology class that rice and beans are a magical amino-acid-building combo… and especially without meat in the equation, rice added a bit more substance. (You’ll notice that this time I just served the saute OVER rice, because in the past cooking the rice into the dish gummed things up a bit.)
I ate 2/3 of what I made last night, and the last third will be my lunch. But luckily I have a bunch of the ingredients left, so I’ll probably just make this again tonight.
Why mess with success?
Keep safe, everybody who’s Sandy-adjacent! Hopefully you’ve got comforting fall foods aplenty.