The Payoff

AriCooks, asian-inspired, Dairy Free, Quick Meals, Summer, Vegan, vegetarian, Wheat Free

So, the downside to being away this summer was that I did not get to do any gardening. In past years I have grown little porch gardens in summer and helped my friend Jayne, at the Dance Complex with her amazing garden oasis. The fruits of those labors have been cherry tomatoes, loads of fresh basil, blackberries and often a zucchini or two. I missed those little prizes this year and was resigning myself to expensive farmers’ market produce until Jeff walked in the door last week with an armful of peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers from the garden of a house he is doing some work on. The family Jeff does most of his carpentry for, are VERY generous, and this year their garden produced bountiful results. Jeff has been pretty busy over there from the moment we returned home, and I am excited that part of the payoff is that we can partake in this summer’s harvest!

It did not take me long to figure out what I wanted to do with a variety of spicy peppers and a few handfuls of fresh basil…

Thai curry of course!

This recipe is sort of free-form. You can really play with it and tailor the end result to your liking. The basic idea is that you have some spicy peppers, a lot of fresh basil, and as much garlic as you like, and you use those three ingredients as your base. From there you need a can of coconut milk and any veggies and or proteins that you prefer. I also like to boost the flavor with a little massaman or green thai curry paste, so if those are available where you live, try adding a teaspoon or two (taste a little first, they can be very HOT).

Ari’s Free-Form Thai Curry

you will want to have some cooked rice (I like short grain brown) on hand to serve this over

serves 4-6

2-3 Tbs spicy garden peppers (you can use thai, jalepeno, serrano, etc), finely chopped

2-3 handfuls fresh basil (thai basil is even better, but whatever you’ve got will taste great), chopped

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

neutral-tasting vegetable oil (canola)

1-2 heaping tsp thai curry paste (massaman or green are both good choices — a little goes a long way)

1 (14 oz) can coconut milk

the following are what I chose to add, you can use what you like or what you have on hand

1 thinly sliced onion

1 thinly sliced bell pepper

2 thinly sliced, peeled carrots

1 lb extra firm tofu ,drained, pressed, and cubed


In a wide 12-14 inch skillet heat up some oil on medium heat. When the oil is heated add the garlic, hot peppers and basil and gently saute until the peppers have softened and the mixture is very fragrant – be careful not to burn your garlic.

Add the coconut milk (shake can before opening) and the curry paste and stir, turning the eat to medium-low.

When the coconut milk has begun to simmer  add the veggies and protein, if using. Cover and simmer over low heat (coconut milk will bubble over quickly if the heat is too high) until the veggies are tender. Season with salt and serve with more fresh basil over rice. Enjoy!

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