Coconut Lemongrass Vegetables

Last month we spent 2 weeks in Canada for a skiing holiday in Whistler. The snow was pretty average, especially for Canadian standard, forcing us to climb as far up the mountain as possible to find good skiing. While we enjoyed every minute of it, that also meant we froze our butts off for quite some time!

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Much of my time spent sitting on chairlifts or gondolas was dedicated to keeping warm and dreaming of a piping hot dinner waiting for us back at the condo. With a party of 6, we took it in turn to cook meals and after a few days of eating tomato-based casseroles, it was my turn to provide with a request from hubby for a hot curry. I was happy to oblige, though took the lazy way and bought a big jar of madras curry paste, 1.5 kilos of stewing beef, threw a couple of sliced red capsicums and carrots, and let the whole thing simmer for 90 minutes. There’s hardly a need for a recipe, it’s that easy!

In the meantime, I had to cater for these among us who do not like pepper or chili and are generally wary of curries for fear of them being too spicy. I personnaly was craving for vegetables, and found my inspiration at the local IGA supermarket (which is quite high-end and is the closest you will find to a fresh market in Whistler!): staring at me from the “oriental” section was a huge bunch of lemongrass stems. Not the anemic straw-looking stuff I’ve had to put up with in Mexico, but the big-fat-blemish free-as thick as my finger stalks. Each bunch consisted of at least 5 or 6 stalks, superfluous to my cooking needs, but I took them anyway. Combined with onions, garlic and ginger, and bathed in coconut milk, it made the perfect broth for whatever vegetables were handy. Indeed this recipe works for any vegetable in season. Pumpkin, broccoli, cabbage (as I did), beans, snow peas and zucchini may be used singly or in combination. A subtle and delicious side dish with curries, it is equally satisfying when thinned down a little and served as a vegetable soup on its own. In fact, I loved it so much, I sneaked back to the condo for lunch the next day, so that I could enjoy the soup by the fireplace without having to share!   

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Coconut Lemongrass vegetables

 

Serves 6-8 people

½ butternut pumpkin, peeled and cubed

1 head of broccoli, cut in small florets and stalks roughly sliced

½ head of white cabbage, sliced roughly

3 tbsp peanut oil (or light olive oil)

2 lemongrass stems, cut in 5cm sticks and bruised

1 onion, peeled and chopped finely

3 cloves of garlic, peeled and squeezed

5cm knob of ginger, peeled and grated

1 chicken stock cube

1 can coconut milk (400ml)

Heat the oil in a heavy based saucepan or wok and fry the onion until soft. Add the garlic, ginger and fry on low heat . Add the lemongrass, coconut milk, stock cube and 400 ml of water (use the coconut milk can for measuring). Simmer uncovered for a few minutes, then add vegetables and cook until tender. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with rice and other dishes.

** To serve as a soup: add more water/milk/thin cream until you reach the desired consistency. A dash of lime juice and a sprinkle of coriander would not go astray either ( I just didn’t have any at the time!).

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