A jar or can of Thai curry paste is a pungent gateway to so many excellent weeknight meals. Mixed with coconut milk and simmered with vegetables, tofu or meat, it’s one of those ebullient pantry hacks that breathes extra life into any ingredient it touches.
Naz Deravian’s new recipe for panang curry (above) starts with a dollop of red curry paste, and to give the dish a delightfully nutty and spiced character, Naz toasts cumin and coriander seeds in a skillet, then grinds them with peanuts before folding it all into said paste. The combination of the creamy, fragrant sauce and tender pieces of boneless chicken, rounded out with a few slivers of mild peppers, makes for an beguilingly complex meal that you can have on your table in about half an hour.
I tend to have a lot of nuts around the house in December, at the ready for my holiday cookie frenzy, but sometimes I forget how good they can be in savory dishes. If Naz’s peanut-filled panang curry is one powerful reminder, another is Dawn Perry’s five-star pasta with garlicky spinach and buttered pistachios. Dawn gets maximum flavor out of just a few ingredients, including garlic and capers, to give the buttery sautéed nuts a briny depth. If pricey pistachios aren’t your thing, almonds or hazelnuts work equally well.
No nuts are needed for Diana Henry’s skillet chicken with black beans, rice and chiles. There’s enough textural contrast from the interplay of meaty chicken thighs, chicken-fat-imbued rice and soft earthy beans, with the perfect fiery jolt coming from pickled and fresh chiles added right at the end.
On the silkier side, we have Nik Sharma’s Bombay frittata (as adapted by Mayukh Sen), all smooth-toned softness from the custardy eggs scented with garam masala, black pepper and turmeric, and dotted with crumbled paneer. But you could add a sassy little crunch by serving it with some sliced cucumbers or fennel, sprinkled with salt and vinegar.
If you’re in need of the bone-warming succor of the soup pot, Ali Slagle’s sausage tortellini soup, with its assortment of fennel and other veggies (snow peas, green beans, kale — whatever you’ve got in the fridge will work) is effortlessly nourishing.
For dessert, how about topping a warm piece of toasted, buttered homemade challah with chocolate, letting it melt, then sprinkling it with crunchy flakes of salt? Also, you probably already know that leftover challah makes fantastic French toast, but have you ever used it for cinnamon toast? Give it a try. I’d love to know what you think.
And as always, you’ll want to subscribe for all these smart recipes and so many more (in the tens of thousands range). If you need any technical help, the brilliant people at [email protected] are there for you. And I’m at [email protected] if you want to say hi.
That’s all for now. See you on Wednesday.
The post This Easy Dish Takes a Can of Curry Paste and Runs With It appeared first on New York Times.