Green Curry with Tempeh, Peas, and Spinach

A flavorful curry will always wake up dinner. This one is almost as quick as opening a can of curry paste, and much fresher in taste!

One of the downfalls of living in Vermont in the winter is that we don’t always have every ingredient available to us every day. One day, I might find lemongrass at the co-op, another there might be kaffir lime leaves just waiting for me.

Making do

However, this is usually not the case, and never will I find these things when I’m actually looking for them, so I’ve omitted them in this recipe for my sanity’s sake, as well as the time I spend trying to hunter-gather these ingredients. I’ve substituted lemons and limes here and they work quite well. If, one remarkable morning, I am lucky shopping, I will substitute a couple of lemon grass stalks (the tender inside) and 4 or 5 kaffir lime leaves. Hope springs eternal.

The right chili, the right heat

Chilis sometimes present problems as well. If you can find green cayenne peppers or Thai green chilis, this is what you want. However, if those are not available, you can substitute green Jalapeño or other hot pepper, just blend them in with the other ingredients one at a time and taste until you are at a level that is a little hotter than you want. Once you add the coconut milk at the end, the heat will be balanced. You can always add a little ground cayenne pepper to round things out as well.

Parsley or cilantro? Your choice!

I have used parsley here because I think coriander leaves taste like soapy metal filings, my personal genetic makeup shared with many others. If you love this herb, it is the traditional ingredient here, so please make this substitution. Funny, I love coriander seeds!

This is good dish for entertaining because you can make the curry ahead of time and just warm and sear off the tempeh after everyone arrives.

Season as you go

Taste as you go as with any recipe. The proportion of the spices is always a personal decision, so taste and adjust according to what you like.

There’s a long list of ingredients here, but most of it is just stuffed into a blender and processed in no time at all! The sauce is not limited to a main dish with protein floating on top. It is delicious on any roasted, grilled, or steamed vegetables as well, or use it in soups, casseroles, and pasta dishes.

Green Curry with Tempeh, Peas, and Spinach

1 large bunch parsley or cilantro (coriander)

5 scallions, quartered

1 1/2 oz. ginger, rough chop

4 garlic cloves, rough chop

2 tsp. brown sugar

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

Zest and juice of 1 lime

2  Jalapeño or green cayenne peppers, seeded and chopped

1 Thai chili, seeded and chopped, optional

1 1/2 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. coriander

1/2 tsp. turmeric

2 tsp. soy sauce

1/2 tsp. salt

Freshly ground pepper

1 cup water

2 tbsp. coconut oil

1 large leek, diced

1 can coconut milk

2 cups thawed frozen peas

2 cups baby spinach

1 pkg. tempeh, cubed

8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, sliced

Thai basil, optional

Place the first 16 ingredients from the parsley down to the water into a blend and process on high until nicely pureed. This is the basic paste that you can use for many other dishes, but the addition of the leek is my personal favorite:

Heat a large skillet with the coconut oil over medium high and add the leek. Turn the heat down to medium and cook until the leeks are tender but do not brown. Add the leeks to the blender, and process again until smooth.

Put the entire mixture into the skillet, add the coconut milk, and bring to a simmer. Taste and correct seasoning. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the tempeh into cubes or diamonds.

Now, for a quick sear on the tempeh. Heat another pan over medium high and add a bit more coconut oil. Brown the tempeh on one side, turn over and brown on the second side. Set aside and tent with foil.

Add the mushrooms to the pan, sear quickly to add a bit of color, and remove to the plate with the tempeh.

Once the curry has simmered, add the peas and the spinach, stirring for about a minute, or until the spinach is just wilted.

Plate the curry in a shallow dish and arrange the mushrooms and tempeh on top. Sprinkle with a bit more finishing salt if desired, and, if you can find it at the market, some Thai basil.

Serve with brown jasmine rice.

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