What to do with 1/3 Can of Coconut Milk?

 

kale, potatoes mustard seed coc milkI tested an adaption of a lovely red lentil soup from the new Plenty More by the inimitable Yotam Ottolenghi (recipe will go up on the Seasonal Recipe Collection soon) but that undertaking left me with about 1/2 cup of leftover coconut milk. I’ve had leftover coconut milk go bad on me before. To avoid that I made this simple braise with cumin and mustard seeds, a bit of turmeric and ground cumin, potatoes, kale, said coconut milk and a handful of chopped roasted tomatoes. Paired with warm cornbread and a radicchio, beet, parsley and walnut salad it was a typically random dinner in this household. I may well make this combination again and might even devote more than 1/3 of can of coconut milk to it to make it saucier and serve it with naan or rice or some such.

Potatoes and Kale with Mustard Seeds, Tomato and Coconut Milk

You can play with the spices here. . . add ginger and/or garlic if you want. Add coriander or hot peppers of some kind. .. use other root vegetables or other greens. . . you get the point!

Serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil (or coconut, sunflower, etc.)
1/2 onion, finely diced
3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds (you can use 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin if that’s what you have)
1 teaspoon black/brown mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
Salt
2 large potatoes, scrubbed and cut into smallish dice (or 3 smaller ones)
1/2 cup roasted, canned or fresh tomatoes
1 bunch kale, washed and chopped, stems chopped very finely
1/2 cup coconut milk (full fat preferably), or more
1/2 cup water (or more or tomato juice if you’re using canned tomatoes)

Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes over medium-high heat. Add the spices and salt and cook for another minute or two, stirring constantly.  Add the potatoes and tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Then add the kale, coconut milk and water. Bring everything to a simmer, turn down and cover and cook, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes, adding a bit of water, more coconut milk or juice from canned tomatoes if things dry out too much) or until the potatoes and kale are tender. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt.

Winter Squash, Chickpeas, Lemongrass & Coconut Milk

Marina di Chioggia Squash

Marina di Chioggia Squash

I’m not at all tired of the months of sun and warmth captured in a deep orange winter squash enjoyed in the last throes of winter. A friend gave me a gorgeous Marina di Chioggia squash last fall and we’ve been enjoying it all week in a variety of forms. It started with gingery squash muffins baked with a big dollop of apricot jam on top and it has continued with this warming but bright Indian-flavored dish.

This dish is only slightly adapted from the inimitable Nigel Slater who in the headnote describes ground turmeric as having a “dusty, old as time itself” taste which is such an apt description for this spice. The lemon grass and ginger balance the turmeric in a dish that is both light and fresh and creamy and deeply satisfying. I had it for breakfast this morning, without rice and with lots of lime juice. I have tended towards savory breakfasts for the past year and this may have been the best one yet!

Happy Cooking!

P.S. There are sill spots available in the Winter/Spring Cooking Class at Luscher Farm on March 16th. We’d love to have you!

Chickpeas, squash, lemon grass and coconut milk--a pretty winning combination when slowly cooked with cardamom and turmeric.

Chickpeas, squash, lemon grass and coconut milk–a pretty winning combination when slowly cooked with cardamom and turmeric.

Chickpeas with Winter Squash, Lemongrass & Coconut Milk
–slightly adapted from Tender by Nigel Slater

If you don’t have whole cardamom pods you can use 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom and add it when you add the ground coriander and turmeric. Whole green cardamom pods are a good thing to have in your spice drawer since they stay fresher much longer than the pre-ground spices.

1 1/2 cups dried chickpeas soaked for six or more hours, drained
2 medium-sized onions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons peanut, coconut or olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
Thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled
3 large stalks of lemongrass, root end trimmed and several tough outer layers removed, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
6 green cardamom pods, crushed (or ground cardamom–see headnote)
2 Serrano chilies, finely chopped and seeds removed (or keep seeds if you want it spicier)
1 lb peeled and seeded winter squash (about 4 1/2 cups of bite-sized pieces)
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock or chickpea cooking liquid seasoned with 2 teaspoons of homemade veggie bouillon base
1 1/2 cups coconut milk (full fat if at all possible)
1 tablespoon brown or yellow mustard seeds
1 cup chopped cilantro

To serve

Cooked basmati rice
Lime wedges

Drain the chickpeas and bring them to the boil in deep, unsalted water. Let them simmer for 40 to 50 minutes till tender.

Pour the oil into a deep pot and add the onions, letting them cook over a moderate heat till soft and translucent. Meanwhile make a rough paste of the garlic ginger and lemongrass in a food processor. The lemongrass won’t break down all the way and will still seem very fibrous but process for quite a while. The fibers will soften in the stew and practically disappear. Stir the paste into the softened onion and continue to cook. Add the ground coriander and turmeric, then add the crushed cardamom pods.

Add them, together with the fresh chillies, seeded and finely chopped. Keep the heat fairly low and don’t allow to brown (though nothing dreadful will happen if you do).

Add the squash to the pan, along with cooked chickpeas and the stock or chickpea cooking liquid. Bring to the boil, then turn down to a simmer and continue to cook at a gentle simmer till the squash is tender, about 25 minutes. Stop as soon as the flesh is yielding to the point of a knife – you don’t want it to collapse.

Stir in the coconut milk and continue to simmer. Put a splash of oil into a pan and add the mustard seeds. As soon as they start to pop add them to the pot, together with the chopped cilantro. Serve with the rice and the limes wedges.

Yellow Peas and Rice with Onion Relish

Split yellow peas and basmati rice cooked with cumin seeds, turmeric, Garam Masala and cilantro and topped with a spicy, lemony onion relish.

One of the best things about living in this era is that we can experience so much of the world through food and the people who share it wherever they end up. What began with the Spice Trade as much as 2500 years ago and continues in varied forms today is a global exchange of flavors, cultures, and tastes that enrich my life and all of our communities, I would argue, every day. I use turmeric and cardamom, cumin and mustard seeds as well as fish sauce and coconut milk, capers, chocolate, and cinnamon . . .pretty regularly. And they all work beautifully with our local produce and products.

I am also a devout farmers’ market shopper and supporter of CSAs and generally try to purchase what we need (food and otherwise) as close to home as possible but with the above exceptions and a few more! Thanks to my current project with the USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council my global and local interests are converging nicely.  I am working on some videos for their new, soon-to-launch consumer-facing website on how to prepare dry peas and lentils. I am testing recipes with yellow split peas, red lentils, whole dry green peas, garbanzo bean flour and much more, which is making me particularly grateful for culinary traditions world-wide. Indian and Italian preparations are serving me particularly well, but so are  Mexican and French ones. So the fact that we grow such a huge variety of peas and beans in the U.S. that I can then prepare based on hundreds of years of cooking wisdom from far-flung places, climates and cultures is a joy.

While I did not intend to post two recipes back to back with the same colors and almost the same spice-scheme, I hope you’ll consider them both.

Yellow Peas and Rice with Onion Relish (Golden Kichuri)
–adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison

2/3 cup yellow split peas (matar ki daal)
1 2/3 cup basmati rice
3 tablespoons ghee, coconut or olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon Garam Masala
3-4 cups  veggie bouillon broth or water
Salt

Onion Relish

1/2 a small red onion, very thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt
Juice of half a lemon
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/8 – 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (or to taste — 1/2 teaspoon  makes this VERY spicy)
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1/3 cup of Greek yogurt or plain whole milk yogurt (optional)

Soak the peas in ample warm water for 2-3 hours. Soak the rice in ample warm water for 1 hour. Drain both.

Heat the ghee or oil in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet and add the cumin seeds. Cook just for a scant minute until fragrant. Be careful not to burn them. Add the rice and peas and stir to coat well with the fat. Add the Garam Masala, turmeric, cilantro and broth or water and 1/2 teaspoon of salt (unless your broth is quite salty–if you’re using water add a generous teaspoon of salt). Stir well, bring to a boil then turn down to a simmer and cook, partially covered for about 20 minutes. You may need to add more water or broth, in 1/2-cup increments if it seems too dry. When the peas and rice are tender and the liquid is absorbed let it sit off the heat, covered, for 10 more minutes to steam.

While the peas and rice are cooking, stir together the relish ingredients. Serve the rice and peas with the relish and some yogurt, if you’d like.

Cauliflower and Chickpeas

If you have leftover cooked or roasted cauliflower then this comes together in a matter of minutes.

 

Serves 4 as a side or 2 as an entrée topped with an egg

 

1 small-medium head of cauliflower, trimmed and broken into florets
1 1/2 cups (or more) cooked or canned, drained chickpeas
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
Salt
1/3 – 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/3 cup Greek or plain, whole-milk yogurt
Olive, coconut or sunflower oil

 

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cauliflower and stir and then cook without stirring for a few minutes to let it brown a bit. Add a splash of water and cover the pan and continue cooking for another few minutes until the cauliflower is just tender when pierced with a fork.

 

Add a little more oil if the pan is dry and then stir in the spices and let cook for a few seconds. Add the chickpeas and stir well and cook until just heated through. Make sure not to burn the spices so turn the heat down if need be. Season generously with salt and serve topped with cilantro and yogurt.