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Vegetarian Thai Red Curry
“This flavorful vegetarian Thai red curry recipe matches sweet potatoes with fresh dandelion greens and asparagus, though you can substitute cauliflower florets, cubed Asian eggplant, squash or carrots. If you're using cauliflower or eggplant, add them earlier, when the potato is only partially cooked, as they will take longer to cook than asparagus. Classic Thai red curry is flavored with lime leaves and Thai basil. If you find them, use them, but even without them the vegetable curry will still be a knockout.”
1 14-ounce can “lite” coconut milk, divided
2 tablespoons vegetarian Thai red curry paste (see Tip), or to taste
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1½-inch cubes
2 cups water
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths
2 fresh cayenne chiles or bird chiles (see Tip), cut into long strips (optional)
2 whole lime leaves (fresh or frozen; see Tip) or 2 teaspoons lime zest
2 cups coarsely chopped dandelion greens or arugula
½ cup fresh basil leaves, preferably Thai basil
¼ teaspoon salt
1Heat a wide heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add about 2 tablespoons coconut milk and curry paste, stirring to dissolve it. Cook, stirring, until aromatic, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add 1 cup of the coconut milk and cook for 1 minute, then add sweet potatoes. Stir to coat the pieces and cook, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes more.
2Add water and bring to a boil. Cook until the sweet potatoes are almost cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining coconut milk, asparagus, chiles (if using) and lime leaves (or lime zest); cook for 1 minute. Stir in dandelion greens (or arugula), basil and salt until well combined. Continue cooking until the asparagus is just tender, 1 to 2 minutes more. Remove lime leaves, if necessary, before serving.
Red curry paste is a blend of chile peppers, garlic, lemongrass and galangal (a root with a flavor similar to ginger). Look for it in jars or cans in the Asian section of the supermarket or specialty stores. The heat and salt level can vary widely depending on brand. Be sure to taste as you go.