In case you’ve missed the memo, Thanksgiving in almost here. Like right around the corner, don’t blink or you’ll miss it, here. In fact, basically Christmas is already here if the big box stores are to be believed.
What does this mean for you? Maybe nothing, if you are the all-planned-out knew what I was going to make for Thanksgiving a month ago type. If that’s you, well then congratulations, but sorry we can’t be friends anymore.
If cooking inspiration is what you’re looking for, then there are lots of places to find it. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Serious Eats Thanksgiving Guide: Complete with a countdown clock and meal plans for everyone from vegetarians to small groups
- TheKitchn: I’ll be pulling inspiration from their vibrant salads list
- Splendid Table: A few years old now, Mark Bittman, master of cooking minimalism, wrote up how to make your whole Thanksgiving meal in one day. You can’t argue with that!
And please send some of your inspiration my way. My current mantra is “cold veggie sides and don’t forget you need to make stuffing”.
Needless to say, I’m a bit behind. But my biggest problem isn’t figuring out what to make; inspiration always manages to strike and I know I’ll pull something together for my party of 20.
No, my biggest problem is that I don’t have room to start making anything because my fridge is packed! Despite my best efforts those condiments never seem to budge, the homemade limoncello bottle is never empty, and my CSA veggies keep on piling up.
So last night I struck out to make good use of some of that veggie and condiment abundance with a slow cooked, hands-off veggie curry. I’m sharing because in the event that you find yourself in the same incredibly fortunate predicament, this is a really flexible meal template that can help you use up whatever you might have overzealously bought before remembering that pesky fridge space issue. Cook it tonight and you’ll be fed for the ever diminishing days leading up to Thanksgiving, which means you’ll only have to clean-up the holiday cooking tornado and not the nightly meal mess as well.
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil (olive, ghee, another neutral oil, or even a water saute would also work)
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 Tbsp good quality curry powder
- At least 3 types of leftover veggies: I used a head of sliced cabbage a bunch each of chopped cauliflower, baby bok choy, and spinach
- 1 can beans or about 2 cups cooked beans or 1 package tofu or 1 lb chicken
- 1 can coconut milk
- 1 can water
- 1 Tbsp sour element: tamarind paste or lime juice or light vinegar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup cashews (leave out if you don't have)
- A couple Tbsp chopped herbs (mint, basil, dill, cilantro, parsley will all work) for garnish
- In a pan or directly in a slow cooker with a saute function (like the Instant Pot), heat up coconut oil. Saute onion and garlic about 3 minutes until softened. Add in curry powder and cook another minute. Stir in hearty cut up veggies (like cabbage and cauliflower), hold more tender green veggies to stir in towards the end. (Note: if you're using chicken for the protein element, I recommend adding it here to brown quickly and be coated with curry powder before adding the liquids)
- Add everything to the slow cooker if it isn't already in there. Next, add in coconut milk and then fill the can with water and add that to the slow cooker as well. Your ingredients should be mostly covered by liquid.
- Stir in beans (or other protein) and set slow cooker to cook at its regular level for 2 hours. At the end of 2 hours test for flavor and stir in your tender greens (like baby bok choy and spinach), a Tbsp or more of sour element, and salt and pepper. Taste again and adjust flavors as needed. If you want your greens to cook down a little, put the cover back on and allow to cook with residual heat until ready to serve.
- Meanwhile, heat up a small skillet and lightly toast cashews for about 5 minutes over medium heat until just fragrant and starting to brown.
- Top each bowl with fresh herbs and toasted nuts before serving.
Don’t roll your eyes at me when I tell you that I made my own curry powder for the recipe. Or do. I’d totally do the same to you. That said, the reason I undertook yet one more project was in hopes of using up some of the spices floating around my pantry that were running low. While I wasn’t able to eliminate them entirely, I did end up with a totally delicious result and a few less stray bags. I used this recipe by Amy Chaplin from her book At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen which has quickly become a staple.