Thai "Jambalaya"

>> Friday, January 7, 2011

Wednesday night after work I decided to take a 15 minute nap because I felt e.x.a.u.s.t.e.d. I woke up over 2 hours later in total darkness -- completely disoriented. And still tired. All signs point to some sort of sickness (cold or worse) on the horizon.

I've eluded it long enough . . . but that doesn't mean I don't absolutely hate how pre-sick Ashley feels.

Bitchy. (OK. That might not be directly related.)
And, if you haven't noticed, I still can't get my contacts in!

I haven't exercised in two days either. And tomorrow, I'm supposed to run my first race since early October. A 10K. In the freezing cold and snow. Not exactly friendly conditions for my current physical state.

What's the DEAL, 2011?

Ever since we made vegan jambalaya, we've been somewhat obsessed with adding roux to our soups and stews. The roasted, nutty flavor it adds to the stock is out-of-this-world incredible. So much so that on that night when I was feeling particularly icky, I took the time (it isn't the quickest recipe) to make it again.

As per usual, we didn't have the right ingredients . . . so, we improvised.

(ever better than the original)
Print this Recipe!

What you'll need . . .
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups sweet potatoes, skinned and chopped
  • 2 cups shiitake mushrooms, rinsed, stemmed, and sliced
  • 1 to 2 red peppers, chopped
  • 1 large (28 ounces) can whole tomatoes (with juice)
  • 28 ounces of vegetable broth
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, minced and squeezed (more info below)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons lemongrass (optional, more info below)
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup homemade peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves

What you'll need . . .
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup white-whole wheat flour

  1. First, stick a big stock pot on the stove and pour your olive oil into it. We're starting with the stew -- but you'll also be cooking the roux. So, pay careful attention. And if you have help (in the form of a friend of family member), it's helpful!
  2. Over medium-high heat, add in the onions, garlic, and bay leaves to the stock pot. Cook for several minutes -- until the onions are glassy.
  3. In the meantime, you can start the roux. All you do is pour the olive oil into a shallow pan (or a heavy skillet works best, according to the book) and wait for the oil to get to a hot, but not too hot temperature (shouldn't be smoking). How you tell? Test it out by pinching a small amount of flour into the oil. If it smokes -- the oil is too hot. If it floats, it's good to go.When the temperature is just right, add in the flour and stir continuously.
  4. Back to the stew. Add in the mushrooms, sweet potatoes, and peppers. Season with the cayenne, ginger (just squeeze the juice from the minced in there), lemongrass (I have a tube of the herb I bought at Wegmans), salt, and pepper. Cook for 5 or so minutes.
  5. All the while, you should continue stirring the roux. (See, that's why it's helpful to enlist a friend to do that part for you!)
  6. Add the tomatoes and broth. Bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer. Then cover and let cook for 15 minutes. (Keep stirring that roux!)
  7. Turn the heat down on the roux. Pour it into the stew. Also add in the peanut butter. Stir and cook uncovered for another 5 minutes. Then mash the tomatoes a bit with your spoon.
  8. Remove bay leaves before serving. Tear in some basil leaves for extra taste. We ate ours with some 5-Minute Naan.
This version of the jambalaya is my favorite of the two we've made. (EDIT: Reader Rhiannon wrote us to say we might better call this dish gumbo. Though Moosewood's recipe -- which is our original inspiration -- doesn't include rice as a key ingredient, traditional jambalaya is actually made of 3 parts: meat, veggies, and rice. Thanks, Rhiannon!) I think it was something about how the sweet potatoes soaked in all the spices. Add more or less cayenne pepper to adjust the heat . . . and no matter what it's called, you'll be smitten with this stew.

What do you do at the first sign of sickness? I usually head to bed earlier and pop some zinc. Fingers crossed it will work! We'd love to hear your tips and tricks. Just leave a comment or email us at neverhomemaker [at] gmail [dot] com.

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