Turkey and Sweet Potato Cashew Curry

Turkey Sweet Potato Cashew Curry

I can’t remember the last time I was so completely impressed with a recipe – the first iteration of a recipe, no less – that it rendered me utterly speechless. So I have to tell you, I am writing this a couple of hours post-dinner, after two bowls of this velvety, sweet-sour-spicy, umami-rich turkey and sweet potato cashew curry.

I think I’ve found the words. It’s so perfect, I need to share it. It’s the best way I’ve ever used leftover Thanksgiving turkey.

Turkey Sweet Potato Cashew Curry

 

(Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links. At no extra charge to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.) 

We cooked Thanksgiving dinner at my mom and dad’s house, and took most of the leftovers home. She was a pretty bird this year, and quite a bit bigger than we’re used to. Just look that crispy, golden skin…

the crispiest golden turkey skin you ever did see
Noah is definitely going to write a future post on how he makes THE BEST roast chicken and turkey. He roasted this bird.

I wanted to create a simple Thai curry with turkey, potatoes, and other vegetables. As it happened, we peeled a few too many sweet potatoes before Thanksgiving, and stashed them in the refrigerator. When simmered in this spicy coconut broth, they are rich and delicious, and a step above regular potatoes. You could substitute regular potatoes and create something a lot like a massaman curry (which I love), but their sweetness goes especially well with coconut milk and a little bit of ginger. Not to mention that sweet potatoes are richer in a lot of vitamins than white potatoes.

So what else is going on in this dish? Well, there is a lot of flavor, but putting it together is surprisingly uncomplicated. It takes a bit of prep, but only one pot (not including rice.)

Sautéing the red onion separately, before adding it to the sauce, is a technique I first saw on Serious Eats. The onions retain their beautiful purple color and just the right amount of texture when added to the curry at the end.

If you have it on hand, homemade stock will make a difference in this dish. We usually have some on hand, because of the aforementioned husband and his prowess with poultry. If you don’t have homemade stock, be sure to look for a low-sodium variety. I like Better Than Bouillon Low Sodium Chicken Base and have used it for years. It’s a concentrated paste, so it stores easily in the refrigerator and keeps for a long time.

I am not sure what brand of red curry paste I used, because I purchased it at an international grocery store and I can’t read the brand on the label! I guess that means it’s authentic, right? I definitely need more curry paste (of all types) in my life.

Finally, most Thai curries are served over jasmine rice, but we only had Basmati rice on hand. I think it’s a great substitute. Basmati rice also has the added benefit of a lower glycemic index than shorter-grain white rice, which means it has less of an impact on blood sugar.

I hope you enjoy this!

Turkey Sweet Potato Cashew Curry

Turkey Sweet Potato Cashew Curry
5 from 1 vote
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Turkey and Sweet Potato Cashew Curry


Course Main Course
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 8

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 large red onion sliced into wedges
  • 3 tbsp red curry paste
  • 1 clove garlic grated
  • 1 tsp ginger grated
  • 1 1/2 cups carrots diced
  • 2 1/2 cups sweet potatoes diced
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1 can (13 oz) coconut milk
  • 2 cups chicken stock unsalted, homemade is best
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce (Three Crabs brand is best)
  • 5 kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 lb cooked turkey diced
  • 1/4 cup green peas (frozen is ok)
  • 1/2 cup cashew pieces

Serve With

  • hot basmati rice

Garnishes

  • cilantro leaves
  • lime wedges

Instructions

  1. In a dutch oven or heavy pot, heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, add onion wedges. Stir-fry for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions start to brown around the edges. Remove onions from pan and set aside.

  2. Add curry paste, ginger, and garlic to the pot. Fry briefly for about a minute.

  3. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add carrots, potatoes, brown sugar, coconut milk, stock, fish sauce, kaffir lime leaves, star anise, and cinnamon stick. Stir to combine. 

  4. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are just tender.

  5. Gently stir in onions, cooked turkey, peas, and cashews. Simmer for about 5 minutes longer, or until hot.

  6. Remove and discard kaffir lime leaves, cinnamon stick, and star anise before serving over hot rice. Garnish with cilantro leaves and a squeeze of lime if desired.

Nutrition Information

Nutrition information provided is an estimate, and does not include rice. Actual nutrient values may vary.

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Carrot Apple Spice Smoothie

Carrot Apple Spice Smoothie

It’s Thanksgiving week, and I’m already leaning into a relaxed holiday pace. I took my time getting ready for work this morning, and had breakfast with my 2-year old, Toby, at home. As the little guy enjoyed his banana and trail mix in his jammies, I tossed some fruits and veggies into the blender for a breakfast smoothie.

My smoothies usually start with unsweetened vanilla almond milk as the liquid, and fermented vegan vanilla protein powder. Today I added vanilla almond butter for extra nuttiness. Frozen banana and avocado provide creaminess and healthy fats, rounded out by plenty of fresh raw carrots and an apple.

This smoothie reminds me of the thick, creamy consistency of a layered pumpkin dessert my mom used to make, without the pumpkin. I used apple pie spice because that’s what was handy, but you could substitute cinnamon, nutmeg, and just a hint of cloves if you have them. Pumpkin pie spice wouldn’t be bad, either.

I use a Vitamix for smoothies, and the high-speed motor handles roughly-chopped raw carrots. If you don’t have a high-speed blender, using shredded or chopped carrots may help make it easier to blend.

Carrot Apple Spice Smoothie
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Carrot Apple Spice Smoothie


Course Breakfast
Prep Time 5 minutes
Servings 2

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 tsp light agave nectar
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1/8 tsp Apple Pie Spice see note below
  • 1/2 frozen avocado
  • 1 frozen ripe banana
  • 2 tbsp Nathan's Vanilla Almond Butter
  • 1 cup carrots roughly chopped
  • 1 small to medium apple cored but not peeled

Instructions

  1. In a high-speed blender, add ingredients in order (almond milk first.)

  2. Blend at high speed or on smoothie setting for 50 seconds, until smooth.

  3. Makes 2 servings.

Recipe Notes

I use Penzey's Apple Pie Spice. It's a blend of two types of cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, and cloves. A good substitution would be 1/8 tsp cinnamon, a bit of grated nutmeg, and a dash of ground cloves.

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Cheddar Garlic Biscuits

cheddar garlic biscuits - quick drop biscuits with garlic and sharp cheddar cheese

(Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links. At no extra charge to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.) 

Breakfast for dinner is a standby meal in our house – the go-to dinner when we didn’t make it to the meat shop, or the ground beef is still frozen. Eggs any style are usually the foundation: scrambled, poached, or over medium (everyone’s favorite.) Meanwhile, hickory-smoked bacon sizzles in the oven. (This is the BEST way to cook bacon – easiest cleanup you can imagine.) Sometimes it’s omelettes, which can be a great way to use leftover bits of roasted veggies, herbs, meats, cheeses, and condiments.

If we’re out of bread (likely) and looking for something to mop up a perfectly-cooked over-medium egg, a quick drop biscuit fits the bill. If you like biscuits, it’s worth making your own from scratch, and you don’t even need to roll and cut them. This recipe is based on the Quick Drop Biscuits recipe from The Joy of Cooking, which I use often. I might even like drop biscuits better than rolled. The shagginess of the batter means you get golden, crispy peaks all over the surface.

These cheesy drop biscuits are not only great with breakfast. They would make a savory accompaniment to a hearty fall soup or stew. They keep well for a few days in an airtight container, but are definitely best when eaten as soon as safely possible right out of the oven.

Cheddar Garlic Biscuit closeup

Cheddar Garlic Biscuits
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Cheddar Garlic Biscuits


Course Side Dish
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 8

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp double-acting baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 4 tbsp chilled unsalted butter, cubed
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/4 cup milk I used 2%.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment.

  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder, white pepper, and garlic powder.

  3. Add cubed butter and toss to coat with flour mixture.

  4. Using a pastry blender, cut butter into flour mixture until it resembles coarse cornmeal. 

  5. Stir in cheese, parsley, and cayenne until cheese is coated with flour mixture.

  6. Make a well in the center, and pour in milk. Stir until combined, about one minute.

  7. Drop in 8 rounded mounds onto parchment-lined sheet pan.

  8. Bake 12-14 minutes until lightly browned. Best when warm from the oven!

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Spiced Persimmon-Pomegranate Salad

We’re food people, so Thanksgiving is our holiday. Preparations begin weeks in advance. If we’re smart, a spreadsheet is involved. If we’re very smart, we prepare as much as we can in advance. (We’re usually not that smart, even with the best of intentions.)

As the turkey timer winds down, not a surface is left uncovered, not a pot left unused in the glorious ballet of kitchen chaos. All available hands are plating, mashing, whipping, and carving. The CO detector usually goes off in the middle of this madness, from using the oven and most of the burners all day. Last year, the turkey ended up resting in a hallway.

Somehow, we all land around the table, and someone says “go!” And if we’re lucky, we still have room for our plates on the table amongst the feast.

It’s not that we’re gluttonous – I just think we all want our favorites for Thanksgiving, and it’s a time when we look forward to creating all these special dishes for each other.

Spiced Persimmon Pomegranate Salad - a recipe sketch
Spiced Persimmon Pomegranate Salad – a recipe sketch

As family Thanksgivings moved from my grandma’s house to either my parents’ or my own house, old favorites came along. There’s turkey, of course, though it’s been upgraded from frozen Butterball to fresh, Amish-raised. There must always be stuffing (a.k.a. dressing) and mashed potatoes, because where else would you put the gravy? Sweet potatoes have evolved quite a bit over the years; the marshmallows of old have been replaced by ginger and maple syrup.

This carb-fest is usually balanced out by various and rotating vegetable dishes. This is where we get the most variety. Last year, my brother-in-law, Ben and his wife, Natalie, made some delicious green beans with pecans and tarragon. The previous year, Ben hand-shaved a large amount of fresh brussels sprouts and tossed them with a lemony dressing.

This year, I was looking for a fresh fruit salad to bring to Thanksgiving at my mom and dad’s, and I created this persimmon salad. Persimmons are a fruit I only recently discovered. They’ve easy to use if you can get them at the correct state of ripeness. There are no peels or seeds to discard, just remove the stem and dice them up. They pair prefectly with apples and pomegranate seeds, two other great fall fruits. The sweet-spicy dressing with ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and honey brings it all together, creating a fresh and crisp salad that pairs perfectly with your choice of Thanksgiving carbs.

Spiced Persimmon-Pomegranate Salad

This salad is also a great excuse to try this technique for seeding a pomegranate in water. What’s your favorite technique?

Spiced Persimmon-Pomegranate Salad
5 from 1 vote
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Spiced Persimmon-Pomegranate Salad


Course Salad, Side Dish
Prep Time 20 minutes
Servings 6

Ingredients

For the salad...

  • 2 Jiro persimmons see note below
  • 1 large honeycrisp apple
  • 1 pomegranate
  • 3 tbsp fennel, minced

For the dressing...

  • 1 tsp ginger, grated
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 valencia orange, juiced
  • 1 generous pinch of salt

Instructions

  1. Remove the stems from the persimmons and cut into a small dice

  2. Core the apple and dice into small pieces.

  3. Score the skin of the pomegranate in quarters. Fill a medium-sized bowl with water. Placing the pomegranate under water in the bowl, pull the quarters apart and gently loosen the seeds. The seeds will sink to the bottom of the bowl, and the pieces of white membrane will float to the top. Pour off part of the water and the membrane pieces and drain the pomegranate seeds in a colander. 

  4. In a large bowl, combine persimmons, apple, pomegranate seeds, and minced fennel.

  5. In a smaller bowl, combine ingredients for the dressing. Whisk together until brown sugar is dissolved.

  6. Pour dressing over salad, and toss gently to combine.

  7. Optional: garnish with green fennel fronds before serving.

Recipe Notes

You may find a few different kinds of persimmons in the store. I use Jiro persimmons for this salad, one of the more common varieties. They look like a slightly-flattened orange tomato. They are ripe when they feel slightly over-ripe by tomato standards, or almost gelatinous under their skin. Read more about persimmons on Wikipedia.

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Crock Pot Channa Masala

Crock Pot Channa MasalaMy first recipe for channa masala was published in a past blog on September 5, 2010. This is a revised version with new photos – and new sketch notes!

Indian food is my “desert island” cuisine. If I had to choose a single cuisine to eat for the rest of my life, Indian food would be it. (Mediterranean is probably a close second.)

I didn’t experience any Indian food at all in my own rural Illinois hometown. When I went to college, I experienced the classic Indian gateway food called tandoori chicken, served with fluffy yellow basmati rice, and was instantly hooked. And when I was briefly vegetarian / vegan a few years ago, I really came to appreciate vegetarian Indian cuisine, and started cooking it myself at home. With the help of some wonderful Indian and international groceries in our ethnically-diverse college town, I built a useful cache of spices for creating Indian flavors.

Although I love a good Indian restaurant meals, I’ve discovered that real Indian is not necessarily loaded with oil and cream. There’s usually ghee (clarified butter) involved, and I have no objection to that. But I love the control I have at home. If I want to create a creamy dish and lower the fat, I’ll use some pureed cashews. I can usually get by with less butter if I increase the onions, and sauté them until they’re deep golden brown and buttery-soft. I know I’m not creating health food here, but I think I’m getting by with a lot less fat and salt, while pumping up the vegetable content.

The type of fresh, home-cooked Indian food that I’ve come to enjoy is portrayed beautifully on cookbook author Meera Sodha’s Instagram. Her first cookbook, Made in India, is one of my favorites. (Try the paneer first for an easy win. You may not go back to the store-bought stuff.) My favorite page of the book, however, is not a recipe – it’s a photo of Sodha’s mother and her well-seasoned wooden spoon, darkly colored from tending decades of family dinners.

Next week, when I travel to my mom and dad’s house for Thanksgiving, I’ll pick up one of my grandmother’s wooden spoons. I’ll use it to stir this channa masala for my own family. I’m fairly certain that grandma’s spoon never experienced channa masala, but I know it’s seen many warm, welcoming family meals. Tastes change and expand across generations, as we welcome more parts of the world into our kitchens. I hope this big warm pot of Indian spiced chickpeas has a chance to welcome you home, too.

Notes

If your slow cooker has a removable stoneware crock, you can assemble this recipe the night before, store the crock in the fridge, then pull it out in the morning and plug it in. Dinner will be waiting for you in the evening, and your house will smell amazing.

If you find that the channa masala needs to thicken a bit before serving, take the lid off the crock pot for about a half hour and let it reduce.

Crock Pot Channa Masala
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Crock Pot Channa Masala

Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours
Total Time 8 hours 20 minutes
Servings 8

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp ginger root about a 2-inch piece, sliced
  • 14 cloves garlic
  • 1 small green chile optionally seeded if you like less spice
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 3 tbsp ghee
  • 1 tsp brown mustard seed
  • 1 tsp whole cumin seed
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 tbsp garam masala
  • 4 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tbsp coriander seed
  • 2 large cans chickpeas drained and rinsed
  • 2 21g cans crushed tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 black cardamom pods
  • 1 tsp amchur powder see note below

Instructions

  1. In a food processor, combine ginger, garlic, green chile, salt, and lemon juice. Pulse until finely minced.

  2. In a heavy skillet, heat ghee on medium-low heat until melted. Add mustard and cumin seeds. Toss briefly, until seeds start to pop. Add garlic-ginger mixture and fry until fragrant.

  3. Add onions, season lightly with kosher salt, and sauté until onions are golden brown and soft, about 10 minutes. (Take care not to let them burn.)

  4. Add garam masala, turmeric, coriander, and a pinch of salt. Bloom the spices with the onion mixture until they are fragrant, about one minute. Turn off heat, and add onion mixture to crock pot.

  5. Add tomatoes and drained chickpeas to the crock pot, along with bay leaves, cardamom pods, and amchur powder. Stir until combined.

  6. Cook on low 8 hours. If desired, leave the lid off for the last 1/2 hour to reduce.

  7. Serve with hot basmati rice.

Recipe Notes

Amchur powder is made from drying green mangos. It provides a sour note to this dish. If you can't find it, a tablespoon of lemon juice added at the end of cooking would make a fine substitute.

Sketch Notes!

I’ve been experimenting with sketch notes for recipes, and they’re so much fun! This is the first sketch I created. It’s not 100% accurate for this recipe, because I forgot the green chile in the illustration and there’s no room to add it. But stay tuned for more sketch notes in recipe posts.

Crock Pot Channa Masala sketch notes

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