Autumn is the time to enjoy a bubbling, savoury, saucy creation, such as a curry, stew or chili. Todays recipes prove they dont have to contain meat to be sustaining and delicious.
For my nicely spiced chili, I pulled out my slow cooker and used it to prepare a tomatoey creation rich with a mix of beans, small cubes of yams and other vegetables. After cutting up the vegetables, the preparation of the chili is easy you simply throw everything into the slow cooker, no sautÃ©ing required, and cover and cook on the low setting for six hours.
Dont be tempted to remove the lid and stir the chili during cooking. Slow cookers are designed so foods wont scorch on the sides of the cooking pot even after longer periods. More importantly, particularly early on in the cooking, if you remove the lid, it can take several minutes for the slow cooker to regain the heat lost by doing so and youll increase the chilis cooking time.
The chili makes eight servings and youll need a slow cooker with at least a five-litre capacity to make it. The chili freezes well, so if you have any left over and dont envision reheating it for a hot lunch the next day, you could spoon it into freezer containers, label, date and freeze for two to three months, ready to thaw and reheat.
My curry is a Thai-style one with a coconut milk base thats spiced up with red Thai curry paste and other flavourings. That curry paste is sold in small jars at Asian food stores and in the Asian food aisle of most supermarkets. Its named after the colour of the spicy chilies and other ingredients used to make it. I made my curry fairly mild tasting, but you could make it as spicy as you like by simply increasing the amount of curry paste used. The curry contains an abundant mix of vegetables, bamboo shoots and tofu and is given a last-minute flavour lift by stirring in your choice of either chopped fresh mint, cilantro or basil. I served the curry over steamed jasmine rice with some lime slices for squeezing. In the introduction to the recipe, I provide other ways you could dress up the curry once in serving bowls.
My stew recipe is an Italian-style one that simmers together chickpeas, artichokes, tomatoes and other good things. For a fresh green colour and a fine basil/garlic taste, baby spinach and pesto are added to the stew near the end of cooking. When the spinach has just wilted, you taste the stew and adjust the seasoning and its ready to go.
Serve the stew over pasta, such as rotini or rigatoni. Once in the bowl, grate some Parmesan cheese over the stew, spice it with some chili flakes, if desired, pour a glass of wine and make a toast to autumn.
Eric Akis is the author of the just-published, hardcover book Everyone Can Cook Everything. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday. Slow Cooker Mixed Bean and Yam Chili A hearty chili you could serve with tortilla chips for dunking. The chili will look thick when first put in the slow cooker, but as steam builds during cooking, that moisture will fall back on the chili, making it the right consistency when cooked. Preparation time: 20 minutesCooking time: 6 hoursMakes: 8 servings
2 (19 oz./540 ml) cans bean medley, drained, rinsed and drained again (see Note)1 (28 oz./ 796 ml) can crushed tomatoes1 (28 oz./ 796 ml) can diced tomatoes1 cup vegetable stock1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels1 large yam (about 375 grams), peeled and cut 1/2-inch cubes 1 medium onion, diced1 medium green bell pepper, diced1 large garlic clove, minced2 tsp chili powder2 tsp ground cumin1 tsp oregano1/8 tsp cayenne peppern salt and freshly ground black pepper to tasten sour cream or thick yogurt, to taste (optional)n 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or slice green onionPlace all the ingredients, except salt, sour cream or yogurt and green onion, in your slow cooker and mix to combine. Cover and cook on the low heat setting for 6 hours. Taste the chili and season with salt and pepper, if needed. Ladle the chili into bowls. Top, if desired, with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt. Sprinkle with cilantro or green onion and serve. Note: This recipe is designed for an oval slow cooker with a five-litre or more capacity. Bean medley is a mix of four legumes. It is available in the canned bean aisle of most supermarkets.
Red Thai Curry Vegetables with Tofu and MintThis is a fairly mild-tasting curry. If you like things spicier, simply add another teaspoon of curry paste or even more, depending on your fondness for heat. Serve the curry with steamed jasmine or regular long-grain rice. Although not noted in the recipe, once in the bowl, if desired, you could top the curry with fresh bean sprouts, lightly crushed, unsalted peanuts, and/or sliced green onionPreparation time: 20 minutesCooking time: About 12 minutesMakes: 4 servings
2 (14 oz./398 mL) cans coconut milk1/4 cup lime juice1 tsp cornstarch2 Tbsp brown sugar1 Tbsp soy sauce1 Tbsp Thai-style fish sauce (optional; see Note)2 Tbsp vegetable oil1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled, sliced and cut into strips1 large garlic clove, minced1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced1 small red bell pepper, cubed1 small carrot, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced on the bias2 tsp red Thai curry paste, or to taste12 to 16 small cauliflower florets1 (227 grams) can sliced bamboo shoots, drained well175 grams firm tofu, drained well and cut into 1/2-inch wide, 2-inch long pieces12 to 16 snow or snap peas1/4 cup chopped fresh mint, cilantro or basiln salt to taste8 lime slices or wedges for garnishPlace the first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Mix in the fish sauce, if using, and then set aside until needed. Place the oil in a medium to large pot set over medium-high heat. Add the ginger, garlic, onion, bell pepper and carrot and cook and stir 3 minutes. Mix in the curry paste and cook one minute more. Add the coconut milk mixture, cauliflower, bamboo shoots and tofu. Bring curry to a gentle simmer, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain that simmer (dont rapidly boil). Simmer curry 5 minutes. Add the snow or snap peas and cook 2 minutes more, or until they and the other vegetables are just tender. Stir in the fresh herb of choice (mint, cilantro or basil), season with salt, and serve.Note: Red Thai curry paste and fish sauce are available at Asian food stores and in the Asian food aisle of most supermarkets.
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