My husband, photographer Scott has always been my most enthusiastic advocate. When I'm certain I can't accomplish something, he's right there to infuse me with confidence and determination. When I feel like giving up, (as I have at times with The Café) his words bolster me, give me courage and point me upwards, to the Lord, our true source of renewal and fortitude.
When it comes to my culinary endeavors, Scott has been my greatest fan. He always almost always greets my latest, often crazy, concoctions with complimentary enthusiasm. He helps me tweak a new recipe by suggesting a dash of this or an addition of that or sometimes an idea for a fun, interesting presentation.
There is, however, a four-word phrase that he reserves for only the finest of my creations. I can think of only 4 or 5 recipes I've served him over the years that have merited this superlative accolade. I know I've hit pay dirt when he takes the first bite and says, "This is like candy!". Candy? Yes, you have to understand my husband has quite an extraordinary sweet tooth, so when he described my Roasted Red Pepper & Chicken Coconut Curry w/ Avocado-Mango Relish as "candy", I knew it was a winner... and that I'd be making it again and again.
One of my inspirations for creating this yummy curry was a fun Fed Ex package that arrived at my door recently. The folks at Gourmet Garden sent me a whole cooler full of their fresh-herbs-in-a-tube products. When I was contacted by Mary from Gourmet Garden about trying out their herbs, I told her that I'd be happy to give them a try, but would only blog about them if I really liked the product. I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical. I mean really, fresh herbs in a tube????
If you're a regular visitor at The Café, it doesn't take long to realize that I'm quite a nut about fresh herbs. Scott plants an amazing self-irrigated herb garden right on my deck every Spring (you can read about his ingenious system here - I always have a plethora of fresh herbs with NO WATERING!). All I have to do is walk out the door and, presto!... I have an abundance of fresh herbs at my disposal. But winter is a different story since here in the Carolinas, the early morning temperatures often drop below freezing and my lush, verdant herb garden becomes a dreary, dry, mass of sad-looking twigs.
Nowadays a selection of fresh herbs is available year-round at most larger markets, but they're fairly expensive, especially when a recipe calls for several varieties. And then we have the problem of shelf-life; most packaged fresh herbs last only a few days, even with refrigeration. Have you ever purchased a package or two of herbs for a specific recipe and not gotten around to using them right away? When you finally get time to cook, often the herbs have sadly seen better days. So what's an herb-loving girl to do? .............
Well, that's why I was excited (and at the same time, dubious) to give these Gourmet Garden Herbs a whirl. How wonderful would it be, when the cold winds blow, to open a tube, give a squeeze and get delicious fresh herb flavor? Being a bit lazy, I also love the idea of no washing, drying or chopping. The herbs for these products are organically grown, then simply washed, chopped, blended and packed into tubes to maintain their fresh taste and nutrition. They keep their flavor for weeks in the refrigerator and much longer in the freezer. They come in a zillion varieties, well actually sixteen to be precise, and can be found in the fresh produce section of many larger grocery chains.
Does this all sound too good to be true? I understand..... and that was my exact sentiment too ......... but guess what? I've been using these products in all kinds of dishes ever since they arrived on my doorstep .......... and I LOVE them! I used the garlic, ginger, lemongrass, cilantro and chili pepper varieties in this Roasted Red Pepper & Chicken Coconut Curry. Like I said earlier, the flavor is fantastic and honestly, I don't think you'd be able to tell a difference if I had gone out and bought each individual herb, washed it, chopped it and added it to my curry. And it saved a BUNCH of time!
I don't know about you, but I don't usually have ingredients like ginger and lemongrass in my pantry or fridge, but with Gourmet Garden Herbs, I can always have them available when the whim for a curry, salsa or a zillion other flavorful recipes strikes me. The herbs stay fresh in the refrigerator for 2 months as there is no oxidation going on, which is what normally causes disintegration and spoiling of fresh herbs. You can also keep these little tubes in the freezer (the herbs don't completely harden) and they'll keep for up to 6 months! I love it, don't you?!
So, back to the curry; it's not only fabulously delicious, it's loaded with all kinds of good, healthy ingredients; onions, celery, carrots, red peppers, delightful herbs and spices and a ton of lean, shredded roasted chicken breast. A bowl of this flavorful soup will not only give you a good portion of fresh veggies, but enough protein to keep you going strong for hours on end!
I had fun with the topping (relish) too. With more fresh produce combined with lime and cilantro, it's a burst of fresh flavor that beautifully complements the hearty soup. A scatter of delicious, toasted pistachios is the crowning glory. Whip up a batch, you might even persuade your kids to try something perhaps a bit out of their comfort zone by saying; "This is like candy"!
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 large avocado not too ripe, finely diced
- 1 medium mango diced small
- ⅓ cup finely sliced green spring onions, 3-4 medium size onions
- ¼ cup finely diced green pepper diced small
- ¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
- roasted pistachios I really like the ones from Trader Joes. They come shelled, roasted & salted.
Combine all ingredients except pistachios. Stir gently.
Serve relish as a garnish on top of curry. Scatter pistachios on top of relish. Use a few whole cilantro leaves for a pretty presentation, if desired.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 medium onions coarsely chopped
- 2 stalks celery roughly chopped
- 8 ounces carrots peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon garlic
- 2 teaspoons red curry paste If you like your curries really spicy, add another 1-2 teaspoons
- 1 tablespoon mild curry powder
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 1 teaspoon tumeric
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger or 2 teaspoons Gourmet Gardens Ginger
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped lemongrass or 1 tablespoon Gourmet Gardens Lemongrass
- 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro or 1 tablespoon Gourmet Garden Cilantro
- 2 teaspoons Gourmet Garden Chili Pepper
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 3 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 1 12- ounce jar roasted red pepper drained
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 13.5 ounce can coconut milk I always use the light coconut milk
- 4-5 cups shredded roasted chicken breast
Heat the olive oil in a medium sauce pan set over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots and celery and cook until onions are translucent, approximately 8-10 minutes.
Add the garlic and next 10 ingredients through the brown sugar, and cook another 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the broth, peppers and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a medium simmer and cook for 50-60 minutes or until the carrots are super tender.
Remove from heat, add coconut milk and puree in batches*, in a regular blender, then return soup to pan. You can also puree the soup right in the pot with a stick blender. (I love my stick blender and use it all the time. A stick blender is probably the most useful, inexpensive kitchen tool you can have if you like to make healthy, delicious soups.)
Add shredded chicken breast and re-warm if needed.
Serve with Asian noodles or rice. Garnish with Avocado-Mango Salsa and toasted pistachios. (Cashews are also delicious!)
If using a regular blender, allow liquid to cool down a bit before pureeing. Work in batches, covering the top of the blender with a clean kitchen towel while blending to avoid spattering.