Category Archives: Thai

Crispy Tilapia in Curry Sauce

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Crispy Tilapia in Curry Sauce

This one is DEFINITELY going on the regular rotation at our house.

Do you see this deliciousness?

Crispy fried tilapia with a sweet and spicy coconut-curry sauce on a bed of fluffy jasmine rice.

Oh.

My.

Heavens.

Crispy Tilapia in Curry Sauce from If Looks Could Kale food blog.

See this Pin on Pinterest!

Have I already told you about my tilapia obsession? I haven’t?

Let me count the ways I love tilapia:

  1. It’s abundant. I don’t think I’ve ever had trouble finding tilapia in a grocery store. You may not think this is a big deal,  but to me it really is. Doesn’t it drive you nuts when you have EVERYTHING you need for a meal in your cart but come to find out that the store doesn’t have some crucial ingredient? Granted, some of you may say that tilapia is easily substituted because white fish is white fish is white fish, but I disagree. Tilapia is not only white fish,  (wait for it)…
  2. It’s cheap. Mega-cheap. My mom is always telling me that back in “the day,” fish was very inexpensive and was considered a “working man’s food.” Of course as people started buying more and more of it (because it was cheap), the price has inflated over the years. I’m so glad I took those graduate-level economics classes so I could gain a basic grasp of supply and demand. While “fresh” tilapia can certainly set you back a pretty penny if you’re buying out of the fish case at a Whole Foods, I’ll let you in on a little secret… (wait for it)…
  3. It’s freezer-friendly. Aren’t we all a little obsessed with freezing things lately? It seems like 90% of the recipes I see re-pinned over and over again are either crockpot recipes or freezer recipes. I buy four-pound bags of frozen fillets at my local Fred Meyer (Kroger) for about $10. Each fillet is about 4 oz, which means that for about $10 the husband and I can each eat four fish dinners (yay, math!). Other than being incredibly cheap, frozen tilapia provides me an extra advantage in the kitchen…
  4. It’s quick to thaw, and quick to cook! *Technically* I don’t think the food-governing-lords recommend thawing fish any other way than overnight in a fridge (seriously, who has the foresight for that?), but I like to just toss mine in the sink, cover it in room temperature water, and let the magic happen. I’ve been using this method for years and have never had any issues. It thaws in about 5-10 minutes, which means I can have absolutely NOTHING planned for dinner, then 10 minutes later I am cooking away.

Which brings us to today’s special presentation of Crispy Tilapia in Curry Sauce. This meal rocks my world in so many ways.

Crispy Tilapia in Curry Sauce from If Looks Could Kale food blog.

Let’s make another list, shall we?

  1. Tilapia (see above).
  2. Thai Food (duh).
  3. Under 30 minutes.
  4. Low-Calorie.
  5. Delicious.
  6. Every ingredient comes from either the freezer or the pantry. Which means I can put absolutely no forethought into making it. <— This is KEY.

Ready for the magic?

Let’s begin.

Makes: 4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 (4 oz) tilapia fillets
  • 2/3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. wok oil (grapeseed or vegetable oil work great, too)
  • 1 (14oz) can light coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp. panang curry paste (or any red curry paste)
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 1 Tbsp. palm sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 2 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 2-4 whole wild lime leaves
  • Jasmine rice, cilantro and lime wedges for serving

Directions:

  1. Pat each of the fish fillets dry with a paper towel, then cut into quarters. Stir together the flour and pepper in a pie plate or shallow dish. Place the fish pieces into the pie plate a few at a time and coat them with the flour mixture. Shake off any excess flour and set aside.
  2. Heat the wok or vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, lay half of the fish pieces to the pan in a single layer. Cook for 1-2 minutes per side, until crisp and brown. The fish doesn’t need to be cooked all the way through at this point because it is going to simmer later on. Once crisp, remove from pan and set aside. Repeat this process with the remaining half of the fish pieces.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium and wipe out any excess oil in the pan, then add half a can of coconut milk. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the coconut milk is hot and foamy. Add in the curry paste and stir for about 2 minutes to work it into the coconut milk, using the back of a wooden spoon to break up any large pieces.
  4. Add the rest of the coconut milk, as well as the water, sugar, fish sauce, and lime leaves (if using). Stir for one minute, then return the fish pieces to the pan. Spoon the curry sauce over the top of the fish. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 10-12 minutes, or until fish has cooked through. Discard lime leaves.
  5. Garnish with cilantro, and serve on a bed of jasmine rice with lime wedges for squeezing.

Crispy Tilapia in Curry Sauce from If Looks Could Kale food blog.

See this Pin on Pinterest!

 

Nutrition (includes fish and sauce):

275 calories, 14 g. fat, 23 g. protein, 15 g. carbs, 2 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 7

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Thai Pork with Spicy Green Beans

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Thai Pork with Spicy Green Beans

I have a serious phobia about trying new things at restaurants. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love checking out new restaurants and have no problem ordering whatever sounds good to me, but when it comes to ordering something different than what I got the first time I was there, I’m a total wimp. When I already know that something is good, why would I take a risk and order something different? What if it doesn’t taste good and I just waste a bunch of money?

The absolute worst case of order-changing-phobia I’ve ever had was at this little Thai place in the town where I went to college. The first time I tried Thai food I ordered chicken with cashew nuts, and it has been my absolute favorite dish in the WORLD ever since. In all seriousness, it took me YEARS to order something different. I finally got tipsy brave one night at dinner and decided to order something different.  I went with pad prik king, also known as chicken with spicy green beans, and it was divine. Prik king itself is actually a type of curry , like panang or massaman. In Thailand the husband and I saw prik king used “dry” (meaning without coconut milk) to saute meat and vegetables. While chicken and green beans is the most common combination seen here in the states, moo paht prik king, or pork with spicy green beans, is a delicious alternative.

An absolute cinch to make, this dish comes together in under 15 minutes so be sure to start your rice ahead of time!

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Side note: I recently found myself on the rice aisle at the local Asian supermarket deciding between a ten or twenty-five pound bag of jasmine rice. I think I have a problem.

Okay, back to the pork: Do you see that delicious sauce nestled underneath the green beans and pork? It is just begging to be soaked up by some rice. Never skimp on the rice.

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You don’t need any special equipment or ingredients to make this incredibly easy dish at home. I’ve included the traditional elements below, but I’ve also added notes about simple substitutions you can make if you don’t have a particular ingredient on hand.

Makes: 4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 lb. green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp. grapeseed (or vegetable) oil
  • 3 Tbsp. prik king curry paste (or use any red curry paste, such as panang, massaman, or regular “red”)
  • 1lb. boneless pork loin, very thinly sliced crosswise into 2-inch strips
  • 1/2 c. fat free chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. palm sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 4 wild lime leaves*, halved (or serve with lime wedges)

Directions:

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and toss in your green beans. Let cook for about 3 minutes, then strain and rinse with cold water.
  2. Heat the sesame and grapeseed oil over medium-low in a large skillet. Add in the curry paste and stir for 2-3 minutes until the paste is well combined with the oil. Use the back of a wooden spoon to work the two together.
  3. Turn the heat up to medium-high and add the pork strips. Stir the pork around to evenly coat in curry paste for a minute or two, then add in the broth, fish sauce, wild lime leaves (if using), and palm sugar. Stir well to combine.
  4. Add the green beans to the pan and saute for another 3 minutes.
  5. Serve with lots of jasmine rice!

*The lime leaves are pictured as a garnish, in case you are wondering what they look like.

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Nutrition (per serving):

308 calories, 18 g. fat, 27 g. protein, 10 g. carbs, 2 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 8

What are your favorite Thai dishes? I’d love a challenge!

Tropical Thai Chicken Curry

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Tropical Thai Chicken Curry

Have I mentioned lately how much I adore mango? Or pineapple? Or Thai Food? It seems like it has been a few days so I figured I had better bring it up again, just to really drive my point home.

After my amazing and life-changing trip to my neighborhood “Oriental Supermarket” I am absurdly stocked up on awesome ingredients for some upcoming Asian and Indian dishes.

I wasn’t planning on writing a post about this Tropical Thai Chicken Curry, but after I started eating it I realized that it needed to be shared with all of you. This afterthought explains why these photos aren’t particularly awesome, or well-light, or in-focus, as I was hurrying to get them done so I could continue eating.

Anyway, you can just use your imagination and believe me when I tell you that it tastes good and looks good “in real life,” as they say.

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Ready to send your taste buds on an epic journey? Okay, let’s begin.

As always, start by prepping your ingredients.

Before anything else, get your rice going.

Then, cut up about a cup of fresh pineapple using your handy-dandy pineapple tool. Or, if it’s the middle of winter and/or you’re lazy like me, you can use the canned stuff.

Core a mango with your handy-dandy mango corer and dice the mango into bite-sized pieces. Or, do it the old fashioned way by holding the mango upright so it is balancing on the end opposite the stem, then use a sharp knife to slice from top to bottom along one of the flat sides of the mango, pressing inward toward the pit to save as much flesh as possible. Repeat on the opposite side, then turn the mango and remove the flesh from  the remaining two ends. Pick up one of the two larger pieces you cut and score it using your knife in a grid pattern, being careful not to cut through the skin. Use both hands to turn the piece of mango inside out to push all of the scored pieces up away from the skin. Use your knife to simply slice them off the skin. Repeat with remaining pieces.

Slice your chicken against the grain into the thinnest pieces you can manage.

Now, get out a wok or heavy-bottomed skillet and heat over medium-high. Pour in half a can of coconut milk and let it begin to foam as it heats. Add some red curry paste and stir to get it all worked in. Add in some fish sauce and palm sugar (brown sugar works nicely as a substitute), as well as a few whole lime leaves. I’m using wild lime leaves, but if you don’t have any just extract the juice from half a lime and set it aside for later. If you’re using lime juice, wait until you turn off the heat to add it in so it doesn’t turn bitter.

Add the rest of the can of coconut milk and some water and give it a good stir. Let it cook for a few minutes while you prepare some fresh basil. Simply stack a few basil leaves on top of one another, then roll them up tightly before slicing them lengthwise into ribbons. Set aside.

Add the chicken, pineapple, and mango to the curry and reduce heat to a gentle simmer (medium-low or low heat, just enough to keep the surface stirring but not at a boil). Let the curry cook for another five minutes or so until the chicken is cooked all the way through.

Turn off the heat, remove the lime leaves, then add the fresh basil leaves (and lime juice if using). Serve alongside lots of jasmine rice.

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Here’s the handy recipe:

Makes: 4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 (14oz) can of Coconut Milk, divided
  • 2 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. Red Curry Paste
  • 2 Tbsp. Fish Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. Palm Sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 4 Wild Lime Leaves (or juice from half a lime)
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1 Lb. Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast, sliced thin
  • 1 c. Fresh Pineapple, chunked
  • 1 Fresh Mango, peeled and diced
  • 1/3 c.  Fresh Basil Leaves, sliced

Directions:

  1. Heat half a can of coconut milk in a wok or heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat until foaming.
  2. Add curry paste and stir to combine. Add fish sauce, sugar, and lime leaves* and let cook for one minute. Add remaining coconut milk and water.
  3. Add chicken, pineapple, and mango to the curry and let cook for 2-3 minutes. Reduce heat to simmer and continue to cook for five minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
  4. Remove from heat. Remove wild lime leaves* and stir in the sliced basil. Serve with jasmine rice.

*If you don’t have access to wild lime leaves, simply use the juice from one half of a fresh lime. Add it at the very end, after removing the curry from heat.

Nutrition (per serving):

442 calories, 27 g. fat, 28 g. protein, 27 g. carbs, 7.5 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 10

Thai “Hidden” Chicken

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Thai “Hidden” Chicken

When I hear the phrase “chicken and rice” I get super disinterested. Something about it just sounds really plain to me and I completely lose interest. HOWEVER – I saw a dish on a menu at a local Thai restaurant with some crazy name I couldn’t pronounce but a description in English that basically sounded like a Thai version of chicken and rice. I was intrigued.

If you DO like chicken and rice, then you will really love this interpretation. If you DON’T like chicken and rice, you should try this anyway because it may make you a believer. It is such a comforting dish, yet is full of flavor and spices that really make this a unique treat.

After a bit of research, I’ve found that this dish is sometimes referred to as chicken “hidden” in rice, so I’ve dubbed this recipe “Hidden Chicken.”

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Ready to start making this deliciousness? Okay, lets go.

First, you’ll want to prepare all of your ingredients. Go ahead and chop up the onions, mince the garlic, and slice your chicken breasts in half horizontally to make two thin fillets.

Place the chicken pieces in a bowl with a splash of fish sauce and let it hang out for a few minutes.

Heat some oil over medium heat in a Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot, then saute garlic, onions, curry powder, salt, and pepper until everything is soft and a vibrant yellow color.

Add the chicken pieces in three at a time and spread them out so they cover the bottom of the pot evenly but don’t overlap each other. Let them brown, then flip them to brown the opposite sides. You’re not trying to cook them all the way through, you’re just wanting to get some lovely caramelization on the outside of the meat. Once browned on both sides, remove the chicken from the pot and set aside. Place the remaining three pieces of chicken in the pot and repeat the same process.

After you’ve browned all of the chicken and set it aside, add the uncooked rice to the pot and use a wooden spoon to stir it around. The rice will soak up some of the lovely curry powder color and get just a little bit toasted.

Add the broth and the heat will de-glaze the pan for you. Use your spoon to scrape up all of the lovely brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Keeping the heat on medium, let the mixture come to a boil. Keep boiling over medium until the water level has dropped to be even with the rice. Some of the rice will be poking through a little bit – it usually takes about 10 minutes.

Turn the heat down to medium-low and return the chicken pieces to the pot. Bury them under the rice so they are “hidden” from view. Use your wooden spoon to level off the surface, then cover and go busy yourself with something else for 45 minutes while the dish turns itself into pure magic. I’d recommend having a beer in front of the television.

After 45 minutes, the rice should be done and the chicken should be cooked all the way through. Remove the pot from heat and let it stand for another 10 minutes. While you’re waiting, open a second beer and then roughly chop some cilantro and cut a lime into a few wedges. After ten minutes, remove the lid and fluff the rice with a fork.

Serve the Hidden Chicken and Rice with lots of fresh cilantro and lime wedges.

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Here’s the handy recipe!

Makes: 6 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced in half horizontally to make two fillets
  • 1 Tbsp. fish sauce (or just use 1 tsp. salt)
  • 3 Tbsp. grapeseed (or vegetable) oil
  • 1 Tbsp. garlic, chopped
  • 1/3 c. onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. curry powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 2 cups jasmine rice
  • 3 1/2 c. fat free chicken broth
  • 3 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped
  • 2 limes, cut in wedges

Directions:

  1. Place your halved chicken breasts in a medium bowl, add the fish sauce, and toss to combine. Set aside.
  2. Heat the grapeseed oil over medium heat in a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot. Add garlic, onion, curry powder, salt, and pepper, then saute 3 minutes or until the onions become translucent.
  3. Place three of the chicken breasts halves in the pot and let brown 2-3 minutes, then turn and let the other side  brown for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside. Repeat with the remaining three chicken breast halves, removing and setting them aside when browned.
  4. Add the rice to the pot and saute for 3-5 minutes until slightly toasted. Add the chicken broth and use a wooden spoon to scrape up the fond (this is the French term for the delicious brown bits on the bottom of the pot – hey, you learn something new every day!).
  5. Keep the heat on medium and let the mixture come to a boil. Continue to boil over medium heat until the water level is even with the rice (about 10 minutes).
  6. Reduce the heat to medium-low, return the chicken to the pan, bury it in the rice so it is “hidden,” then cover it and let it cook for 45 minutes.
  7. After 45 minutes, remove the pot from heat and let it stand for 10 minutes.
  8. Fluff the rice with a fork, then serve with plenty of fresh cilantro and lime wedges.

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Nutrition (per serving):

383 calories, 9 g. fat, 18 g. protein, 56 g. carbs, 2 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 10

Peanut Panang Beef Curry

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Peanut Panang Beef Curry

The thing I love most about Thai cooking (other than devouring the end result) is how incredibly easy it is. Very few recipes call for techniques more advanced than basic knife work, mixing, and stir-frying.

Maybe that’s why I never really got into French cooking; it’s simply too much work! Plus I don’t like French food.

Once you have the basic methods down for making a stir-fry, soup, fried rice, and curry you can exercise your own creative tendencies and make just about anything you like.

The majority of recipes calling for curry paste can easily be adjusted to accommodate whichever kind you have in your cupboard. I try to keep five different varieties on hand: Red, Green, Yellow, Massaman, and Panang.

This Peanut Panang Beef Curry is delicious, simple, and richly satisfying.

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While I’ve listed traditional Thai ingredients below, I’ve also included substitutions for those without access to all of the items listed.

You’ll want to serve this dish with rice to soak up all of the peanutty-goodness, so be sure to get a pot going before you start on the beef as the curry comes together very quickly. See my tip below about using the leftover coconut milk to make the rice! A green salad on the sides makes this a complete meal.

Makes: 4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. coconut milk, divided*
  • 2 Tbsp. Panang curry paste**
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 2 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. palm sugar***
  • 3 wild lime leaves****
  • 1/2 lb. boneless beef (such as tri-tip), very thinly sliced crosswise into 2-inch strips
  • 3 Tbsp. ground peanuts*****
  • 1/4 c. basil leaves, preferably “Thai” or “Holy” basil, roughly chopped

Directions:

  1. Pour a half cup of coconut milk into a wok or skillet set over medium-high heat. Once hot and foaming, add the Panang curry paste and use the back of a wooden spoon to break apart any large chunks. Stir the curry paste and the coconut milk until fully combined.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium and add the rest of the coconut milk as well as the water, fish sauce, palm sugar, and lime leaves. Let simmer for a few minutes then add the thinly sliced beef and stir.
  3. Cook the beef, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Add the ground peanuts and reduce the heat to low. Stir to combine the peanuts with the curry.
  4. Just before serving, turn off the heat and remove the wild lime leaves. Add the basil leaves and stir. Serve with rice.

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*When I have a recipe that calls for just part of a can of coconut milk, I like to use the leftovers to replace part of the water used to make rice. It really adds delicious flavor and texture to the rice and keeps me from finding wasted Tupperware containers of coconut milk in the back of my fridge.

** Substitute red curry paste or Massaman curry paste if you don’t have Panang.

*** Use brown sugar if you don’t have palm sugar.

**** Wild lime leaves make all the difference in the world, but the curry will still taste delicious without them. If you can’t find any, substitute 1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice.  If using lime juice instead, add it at the very end along with the basil.

***** I threw some peanuts in my food processor until ground, but you could also use regular peanut butter.

Nutrition (per serving):

292 calories, 22 g. fat, 15 g. protein, 12 g. carbs, 2 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 8

Green Curry Mung Beans with Spinach

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Green Curry Mung Beans with Spinach

If you’re anything like me, you probably read the title of this post and are likely quickly losing interest in this recipe because you have no idea what mung beans are. But wait! Fear not, my child. I promise you that you can find mung beans in most any grocery store and they are very cheap and easy to cook. Most importantly, they do not need to be pre-soaked! I buy them in bulk at the grocery store, keep them in a mason jar in my pantry, and pull them out when I need to throw together a quick meal with no fuss.

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These little beauties are found mainly in Asian cuisines, particularly in Thai, Indian, and Filipino dishes. They are packed with all sorts of good-for-you nutrients, protein, and fiber. You can use them as you would green split peas or lentils (my favorite!). They have a slightly sweet flavor which works perfectly with the delicate coconut milk in this recipe.

As with most recipes calling for curry paste, feel free to swap out the green curry paste in this recipe with whatever you happen to have. Alternatively you can use regular curry powder if your pantry is looking a little bare; start with a few teaspoons, taste, and add more if needed. I typically purchase Thai Kitchen curry pastes which aren’t terrible expensive and are easy to find on the ethnic food aisle.

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I used two tablespoons to this dish as green curry paste is pretty mild. If you are using red, massaman, or panang, you may want to start with a little less and work your way up. Remember, it is always easier to add more than to try to take it out!

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I’ve also taken to purchasing coconut milk in these adorable little two-thirds-cup cans rather than the usual 15 oz. size. It’s the perfect amount for a dish like this and then I’m not trying to find a way to use up the leftovers from a full size can (like the time I attempted to make pina coladas – total fail!).

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This recipe is really a cinch to make. Simply saute an onion in oil until semi-translucent and slightly brown…

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Add in some ginger and garlic…

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Add your mung beans and let them toast…

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Then add three cups of water, bring it to a boil, reduce it to a simmer, cover, and let cook for 20 minutes.

IMG_0040This is my adorable little 3-quart enameled cast iron dutch oven. Isn’t she beautiful?

After twenty minutes, stir in some chopped tomatoes, coconut milk, curry paste, and seasonings, then re-cover and let cook for another few minutes until your mung beans are tender.

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Here are the beans when they are not-quite done…

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…and here they are when they are split and tender…

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They lose a bit of their vibrant green color by the time they are tender and look a little more like cooked green split peas.

Once the beans are tender, stir in some fresh spinach leaves…

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and let them wilt. Once they are dark green and wilted, taste the dish and adjust salt and pepper to your liking.

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Serve over rice and garnish with cilantro!

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I like to mold my rice into little bowls them turn them out onto the plate to impress the husband.

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I think it makes him feel special.

Be sure to take some out-of-focus pictures with your new lens….

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And, as always, spend so much time trying to figure out how to work your camera that the food gets cold before you can eat it.

Voila! Stay hungry, my friends.

Makes: 6 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. mung beans, sorted (remove any debris)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 3 cups fresh spinach leaves
  • 3 c. water
  • 2/3 c. coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp. green curry paste
  • 1/2 inch fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. oil (I used grapseed)
  • Dash cayenne pepper
  • Dash ground coriander
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • Fresh cilantro for garnish

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a 3-quart dutch oven or large covered pot over medium-high heat.
  2. When hot, add the chopped onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until semi-translucent (about three minutes).
  3. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute, stirring frequently so as to not burn the garlic.
  4. Add the mung beans and cook, stirring frequently, for 60 seconds until slightly toasted.
  5. Add the three cups water, stir, and bring to a boil. Let boil for 2-3 minutes then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Add in the chopped tomato, curry paste, coconut milk, and seasonings, then stir, re-cover, and cook until mung beans are tender and splitting out of their shells (another 5 minutes or so).
  6. Add the spinach leaves and stir until wilted.
  7. Taste the dish and add salt and pepper as desired (I added quite a bit of both).
  8. Serve with rice and garnish with cilantro.

Nutrition (per serving):

216 calories, 9 g. fat, 10 g. protein, 26 g. carbs, 7 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 6

What’s your favorite way to cook up beans or lentils?