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Awakening a New Season

If you’ve been following along for some time you may have noticed that at the start of each new season I declare it my favorite. Perhaps it’s because by the end of one season I’m so eager for the next. No matter the reason, I’m declaring Spring my favorite. That is, until Summer makes an entrance.

Spring always comes at a time when I adamantly declare, “No more root vegetables!”. When I crave fresh, bright flavors over long-simmered roasts and braises. I long for those heavy washes of gray clouds to part and let through soft rays of sun so my tender herbs can burst through the dirt. And the moment they do you can be sure I am snipping them with great delight and relishing their grassy, fragrant flavor. From there they tuck into salads, bubbly sodas, under chicken skin and into aromatic curries.

This recipe is a comforting bowl of exotic flavors and Spring’s finest. Heady with garlic, lemongrass and ginger with a heat that tickles the nose and warms the winter out of the bones. With the help of store-bought green curry paste it’s the sort of healthful meal that comes together quickly.

This is also the sort of recipe that makes quick work of cleaning out the fridge. Say, for example, you find yourself with a crisper full of zucchini, then by all means add more to the mix. Don’t have a red pepper? No problem, it’s fine without. It’s the sort of recipe that should suggest a place to start rather than be followed religiously. Make it my way or make it your own, just be sure to make it because the combination of lemongrass, lime and fish sauce is just the sort of thing we need to wake up to this new season.

SPRING VEGETABLE GREEN CURRY

 

For the sake of this recipe, you’ll need to seek out a few ingredients that you may not normally have on hand. Fish sauce should be easily found in the ethnic aisle of your grocery store or at an Asian market. Most stores sell lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves alongside other packaged herbs; check the freezer case too. They can be a bit pricey, but you won’t use up everything in this recipe. Store what you don’t use in the freezer alongside the leftover green curry paste for a healthful and flavorful dinner in a hurry.

 

SERVES 4

1 tablespoon neutral oil (such as vegetable or canola)

1⁄2 cup/120 g green curry paste (available at most grocery stores or online)

1 carrot, diced small

1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

1 (13.5-ounce / 380 g) can full-fat coconut milk

4 kaffir lime leaves (substitute 2 teaspoons freshly grated lime zest

1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips

1 small zucchini, diced

1⁄2 cup / 65 g shelled green peas, fresh or frozen

1 cup / 120 g diced tender asparagus (about 7 to 8 stalks)

1 cup / 30 g assorted herb leaves, plus more for garnish (mint, basil, and cilantro work well

1 teaspoon fish sauce, plus more for serving

2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice

1 cup / 200 g jasmine rice, cooked according to package directions, for serving

Lime wedges, for serving

 

In a large sauté́ pan or wok, heat the oil over medium-high heat and stir in the curry paste. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the carrot and 1⁄2 teaspoon salt and sauté́ 2 minutes more before adding the coconut milk and kaffir lime leaves. Bring the curry to a simmer and then add the bell pepper and zucchini and the remaining 1⁄2 teaspoon salt. Cook for 2 minutes. Add the peas and asparagus and cook until the asparagus is just tender, about 10 minutes more. Finish by stirring in the fresh herbs, fish sauce, and lime juice.

Taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking.

Serve over cooked jasmine rice and garnish with more fresh herbs. Serve with lime wedges and keep the fish sauce on hand. The curry can be made up to 3 days in advance.

 

Ashley Rodriguez is a chef, food blogger, mom, and author of the cookbook  Date Night In: More than 120 Recipes to Nourish Your Relationship. Check out her blog for more great recipes! notwithoutsalt.com