TIME FOR A VEGETABLE RESOLUTION by Olivia Mack McCool
These flavors make it easy to keep.
The new year is like a season in itself. Every year we get to hit that metaphorical reset button. For a lot of us, food is a big part of that. There are resolutions made and intentions set. Maybe eating more vegetables or just more variety is an ongoing goal. I’ve found that a new perspective through a flavor I hadn’t had before is what gets me most excited about vegetables. For me, this is often found in seeing the way other cultures prepare their vegetables.
Two years ago, on a trip to London with my two best friends, I ate at the wildly popular chain Dishoom. It’s an elevated and very cool but unfussy Indian concept that won me over not only with its insanely flavorful food but very inspired decor. One of the vegetable dishes brought to the table has been my favorite way to eat broccoli since.
My chili broccoli salad is an interpretation of what I think I tasted in that salad. It has now gained a bit of a cult following in my family and friend group. It’s the sharp contrasts between spicy, salty, sweet and citrusy that makes this salad so addictive. The key is to avoid over-steaming the broccoli – you want it almost raw with just a touch of softness from the steam. If you’re lucky enough to end up with leftovers it is great the next day.
Curry is a term that means many things – it’s a spice blend, it’s a preparation, it’s a flavor. For my household it means a very healthy, deeply delicious and easily prepared dinner. My “Super Fresh Green Curry” is one of my back pocket dinners that is often requested by my family, especially when we’re all craving Thai takeout.
The recipe starts with a paste that’s made in the blender out of ingredients found in almost any grocery store. This bright green flavor bomb is then cooked and combined with creamy coconut milk to make the broth. What goes into the broth is almost endless in its possibilities. I’m offering our favorite combination of protein and veggies here but once you grasp the method you’ll see that you can swap in virtually anything. I often serve it with rice but have been known to put it over rice noodles. The versatility and marvelously satisfying flavor is what will make you fall in love with this recipe. The fact that it is highly nutritious will surprise you upon first bite.
Olivia Mack McCool is a recipe developer, cookbook author, food stylist and local mom who lives in Maplewood. For more of her work and recipes, check out her website oliviamackmccool.com and follow along on Instagram @oliviamackmccool.
Chili Broccoli Salad
1 large head of broccoli, broken down into large pieces
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, smashed
Juice and zest of 1 lime
½ teaspoon kosher salt
4 Medjool dates, pitted and finely chopped
¼ cup pepitas, lightly toasted
¼ cup shelled pistachios, chopped (peanuts can work too)
1 small fresh red chili or jalapeño, very thinly sliced (use less if you don’t like spicy)
Handful of cilantro, chopped
Handful of mint, chopped
Set a steamer basket inside a lidded pan filled with an inch of water and bring to a simmer. Steam the broccoli for about 1 minute and 30 seconds, just until still quite firm and bright green. You only want it very lightly steamed, so that there is still a little crunch in the middle. Transfer to a cutting board to cool.
In a large bowl, combine the oil, garlic, lime zest and juice, salt and dates. Stir together to let the garlic infuse into the dressing.
Meanwhile, chop broccoli into small pieces. It’s fine to use the stem here. It adds a nice crunch.
Remove and discard the garlic clove. Add the broccoli to the bowl along with the pepitas, pistachios, chilis, chopped cilantro and chopped mint. Toss to combine. Taste for salt and lime juice.
Super Fresh Green Curry
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 tablespoon fish sauce plus more
4 large garlic cloves
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
zest of 1 lime (save the remaining lime for later)
half a bunch of cilantro (about 2 cups) rinsed and dried well
2 jalapeños, 1 seeded and 1 left whole (both seeded if you don’t like spicy)
2 medium shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
1/2 lbs. shiitake (or a mix of varieties) mushrooms, sliced
1 lb. snow peas, sugar snap peas or green beans
1/2 cup frozen peas or edamame
1 can full fat unsweetened coconut milk
1-½ lbs. boneless skinless chicken breast, thinly sliced (sliced steak, filets of white fish, shrimp and tofu also work great)
1 head of broccoli, cut into florets
Steamed white rice or cooked rice noodles for serving
Extra cilantro, mint or basil for garnishing
Make the curry paste: Combine all the curry paste ingredients in a blender and blend until very smooth. Scrape down the sides as needed.
Make the curry: Heat a large pan with low sides over medium high heat. Scrape all of the curry paste into the pan and sauté for 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until the paste becomes very fragrant. A rubber spatula is very helpful here.
Meanwhile, set a steamer basket inside a lidded pan filled with an inch of water and bring to a simmer. Steam the broccoli for 2 minutes, until bright green and just tender. This step helps keep the broccoli from over cooking later and keeping its vibrant color.
Stir the coconut milk into the pan with the cooked curry paste. Fill the coconut milk can halfway with water (stock works great too!) and add it to the pan. Bring to a simmer and add the mushrooms, snow peas and frozen peas.
Add in the sliced chicken breast and simmer everything for another 8-10 minutes, until everything is cooked through.
Stir in the broccoli and squeeze the juice of the reserved lime into the curry. Taste for salt. If the curry seems lacking salt, add in another dash of fish sauce or salt.
Serve with cooked rice or rice noodles. Herbs like cilantro, mint or basil are a beautiful and tasty garnish.