Thai Inspired Peanut Curry is a healthy, delicious and easy dinner that makes the most of the late summer harvest while welcoming the brisker chill of fall. Affiliate links have been used to link to items I am discussing in this post.
There are many reasons I love fall the best. Football (Go Blue!). Sweaters. Jeans. My birthday month (September). The Holidays. Baking. But there is one reason that often gets overlooked because it is a little more subtle. When the weather cools off, but has not yet frozen, suddenly you have at your fingertips the “summer’s” bounty to use in cooler weather cooking. Curries, stews and casseroles that are full of delicious veggies straight from your garden or maybe a nearby farmer’s garden. Heaven. This Thai Inspired Peanut Curry is one such dish.
Because it uses ground beef, this curry is also super simple and fast cooking. And if any vegetable that I have used or not used does or does not sound good to you, leave it out or try it (holy wow did that sentence even make sense?). What I mean is, this dish is flexible. I could easily see mushrooms in it. I meant to add cherry tomatoes and forgot. Have some greens or root veggies to use up? Throw ’em in! Thai Inspired Peanut Curry makes no pretensions to authenticity, which makes it a great blank slate for playing.
Thai Inspired Peanut Curry is also one of my best arguments for making your own curry paste. It does not call for quite as much curry paste as a traditional Thai red curry would, so you might be able to get away with storebought if you have high heat tolerance. But guys, frozen curry paste is one of my single biggest weapons in the kitchen. Once you have made the paste, it is so easy and often fast (cut of meat depending) to whip up amazing curries, some traditional and some, like this one, more out of my own head. If you have a wet dry grinder like a Preethi, or maybe even a Vitamix Blender type machine, making the paste is also pretty easy and fast. I am not as certain about the Vitamix or its Western competitors, but I am guessing they will work because I have been told you can make homemade tahini with them, and if you can grind a sesame seed, you can probably grind a curry paste. It is certainly worth trying anyway!
We adored this dish, the entire family. If you are curious, the above picture is how my children prefer their rice dishes. I actually do not think it is because they are nervous of the curry or avoiding it (although it may have started that way). I think it is because they love plain rice so much that they prefer to eat the curry plain! Yes, crazy, I know. But everybody had seconds, and maybe even thirds. It was a perfect early September dish, especially with the brisk weather we have been having. Bring on fall!
Here is my recipe for homemade Thai red curry paste, which I highly recommend making and keeping in the freezer.
- 2-3 T extra-virgin coconut oil
- 1/4 cup red curry paste, preferably homemade
- 5 small onions, roughly chopped
- 1 1/2 lbs ground beef
- 2 small pinches salt, divided
- 2 sweet bell peppers, roughly chopped
- 3 medium-small zucchini, insides scraped out, roughly chopped
- 1/3 cup natural peanut butter, preferably freshly ground
- 1 19-oz can of coconut milk
- 1 15-oz can of coconut milk
- 1 t garam masala
- kernels from 2 ears of corn
- 2-3 T brown sugar, to taste
- 1-2 T fish sauce, plus more to taste
- Thai basil (or sub a purple basil like global basil)
- Chopped roasted and salted peanuts
- Sriracha sauce
- Jasmine rice
Melt the coconut oil over medium high heat in a large Dutch oven or heavy pot. When it is hot, add the curry paste. Mix into the coconut oil and fry, for about 3 minutes.
Add the onions with a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
Add the ground beef with a pinch of salt. Stir, mixing into the onions and curry paste. Brown the ground beef, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.
Add the peppers and zucchini. Cook, stirring occasionally, for another 2-3 minutes.
Stir in the peanut butter to melt it and mix it in evenly.
Mix in both cans of coconut milk and add the garam masala and corn kernels. Bring to a boil.
Stir in the sugar and fish sauce, starting with lesser amounts. Cover the pot and turn the heat down to maintain a gentle simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes to blend the flavors.
Taste for more fish sauce and brown sugar. Serve over Jasmine rice, garnished with basil, chopped peanuts, and Sriracha sauce for those who like some heat.