Today's menu: Pad Thai, vegetarian curry, and mango-avocado salad
As you may know, a dozen of Whole Living staffers started a weekly Lunch Bunch where a trio of people takes turns cooking for the group each Monday. We just finished one of our best yet. The cooks for the upcoming week try to brainstorm a complementary menu of dishes, and this week the other two editors and I decided to do a Thai-themed feast.
The menu---vegetable curry, Pad Thai, and mango salad---was totally delish, but we were all feeling like it took a little too much effort. The point of Lunch Bunch is of course to take time to enjoy sharing a meal with co-workers (and rehashing the latest episode of Mad Men), but also to make Mondays a little more fun. But sometimes playing with more adventurous (ahem, Thai) dishes in the kitchen can ruin the fun--and this week's cooks are kinda beat.
Erika, our lovely photo editor, spent hours laboring over her unbelievably flavorful curry yesterday; senior editor Sarah went out of her comfort zone with an ambitious rice noodle Pad thai (those sticky noodles aren't the easiest to work with); and I spent far too long prepping mangoes (why are they so difficult!) for a salad with avocado, spinach, and cucumber.
Pretty impressive menu, right? Exactly. We're thinking to ensure the longevity of Lunch Bunch, we've gotta start sticking to simpler food. But in the meantime, here's today's menu. (Always vegetarian, with the exception of fish sauce in the salad dressing, and gluten-free.) Enjoy!
Erika riffed off this Bon App recipe.
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 small carrot, peeled, chopped
1 stalk lemongrass, coarsely chopped and pounded with meat mallet to flatten slightly 1 1-inch piece unpeeled fresh ginger, thinly sliced
1 small Granny Smith apple, peeled, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons curry powder (preferably Madras)
2 cups fresh carrot juice (I juiced two pounds of carrots with my Hurom Slow juicer for this.)
1 can coconut milk
cayenne pepper, coriander, tumeric and lime juice to taste
2 large bell peppers
1/2 pound green beans
3/4 pound shiitake mushrooms
1/4 cup torn fresh basil
For curry sauce:
Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, lemongrass, and ginger; sauté until slightly softened but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add apple and curry powder; sauté until vegetables are tender, about 8 minutes. Gradually pour in carrot juice then coconut milk; bring to boil, whisking constantly. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer uncovered until sauce is slightly thickened and reduced to generous 2 1/2 cups, about 20 minutes. Taste and add cayenne pepper, coriander, tumeric and lime juice as needed. Strain sauce through fine strainer set over bowl, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible; discard solids in strainer. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. DO AHEAD: Curry sauce can be made 1 day ahead. Cool slightly. Cover; chill. Rewarm before using.
In large saucepan or dutch oven, saute peppers for about 4 minutes in a small amount of curry sauce. Add green beans and continue cooking, stirring frequently, for another 5 minutes or so. Add mushrooms to mixture with a tablespoon of butter. Continue stirring mixture until mushrooms are cooked and beans and peppers are cooked but still have a crunch. Pour curry sauce over vegetables and simmer for about 10 minutes to let flavors meld. Serve warm with brown rice (cooked separately) and torn basil on top.
Pad Thai with Scallion, Egg, and Garlic
24 ounces dried, wide, and flat rice noodles
8 tablespoons dark-brown sugar
8 tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus wedges for serving
12 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
9 scallions, white and green parts separated and thinly sliced
3 garlic clove, minced
6 large eggs (optional), lightly beaten
1 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
3/4 cup chopped roasted, salted peanuts
Soak noodles according to package instructions. Drain. In a small bowl, whisk together brown sugar, lime juice, and soy sauce.
In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Add scallion whites and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add eggs (if using) and cook, scraping skillet with a rubber spatula, until eggs are almost set, about 30 seconds. Transfer egg mixture to a plate. Add noodles and soy-sauce mixture to skillet; cook, tossing constantly, until noodles are soft and coated with sauce, about 3 minutes. Add egg mixture and toss to coat, breaking eggs up gently. Serve noodles with lime wedges, topped with scallion greens, cilantro, peanuts, and a squirt of Sriracha.
Mango, Avocado, and Cucumber Salad
3 ripe mangoes, diced
2 ripe avocados, diced
2 cucumbers, skins removed, peeled into ribbons using a Y-shaped peeler
2 cups packed spinach
2 Tbsp torn fresh basil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
3 Tbsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
Combine mangoes, avocados, and cucumber. Add spinach and basil. Toss with dressing.