Chayote Squash Salad

This is a very refreshing salad if you like vinaigrette dressing. Chayote Squash is used in many South American and Caribbean dishes. In my family we cook Chayote squash in soups and stews, but it was at a little Brazilian cafe, where I was introduced to the idea of using it as a side dish with oil and vinegar. Unfortunately, the cafe is no longer open, but the memory of the salad still stays with me.

Chayote Squash Salad

Yields: 4 servings
Preparation time: 5 minutes

2 Large Chayote Squash
1/4 cup onion
2 tsp red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp of white distilled vinegar
2 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil (add more if salad is too tart to taste)
1 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 tsp of freshly ground pepper
Garnish with fresh cilantro (optional)

Slice Chayote similar to the photo above. Dice onion. Combine the rest of the ingredients and toss salad.


Madras Curry with Basmati Rice

For this Indian dish, I used tofu, but you can use chicken instead. I added Sambal Oelek for a little kick, but the curry paste is spicy enough for most people.

Madras Curry

Yields 4 servings
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: about 45 minutes

1 lb chicken OR a 19 oz package of Firm Tofu, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 cup diced carrots, chopped very small
3 large white potatoes, diced into cubes
1 cup chopped onion (yellow preferred)
2 cups Organic chicken broth
1-14.5 oz can stewed tomatoes
2 Tbsp Madras Curry Paste (found at any Whole foods market or Indian market)
1/4 cup of canola oil
1 tsp of chopped fresh garlic (used for infusion)
Fresh Cilantro for garnish
Samba Oelek (optional)

Fry the pieces of tofu in the canola oil and garlic. Set a plate aside with a paper towel to absorb the oil from the cooked tofu. See below for pictures on how to cook tofu. Once the tofu is cooked, set aside, but reserve oil and discard the garlic. Use only 2 Tbsp on oil to saute the onions and carrots for about 5 minutes. Once the onions start getting translucent, add the potatoes, 1 cup chicken broth, tofu or chicken, stewed tomatoes, and paste. Let simmer until carrots and potatoes are tender. If you have to keep adding more liquid, use the remaining 1 cup of the broth that was set aside. Serve over Basmati rice and garnish with fresh cilantro.
Pairs well with Chayote Squash Salad. See recipe.

Cooking the tofu in garlic and oil:

Cooking Tofu

Golden Tofu

Onions and Carrots

Spicy Sambal Oelek

Tabouleh Salad

Yields 3-4 Servings

4 cups finely chopped parsley (about 2 large bunches)
3 cups chopped vine ripe tomatoes (about 5 tomatoes)
1 cup of finely diced scallion (green onion)
1 cup fine Bulgur wheat (Note: Eliminate this ingredient for Gluten-Free Tabouleh)
1/4 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1 large lemon or 2-3 small)
1/4 cup of diced pickling or english cucumbers (Use as a substitute for wheat or if you just love cucumbers)
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp of fresh mint
1 tsp salt or to taste
Romaine or Iceberg Lettuce for wrapping

Pick parsley and remove large stems. Place in colander and wash. Leave in Colander while water drains and parsley dries. Set aside. Use a bowl that can hold about 4 cups of liquid to soak the wheat. Place the wheat in a bowl or 4 cup measure and add water so that there is about the same amount of water on top of wheat as there is wheat. Set aside and wait for wheat to absorb the water and rise.
Dice tomatoes, green onion, and cucumbers and place in a 3.5 quart or larger bowl.
Chop parsley by hand or use a large food processor. See the pictures below for what the parsley, tomatoes, onion, and cucumbers should look like.

Diced Tomatoes

Diced scallion (green onion):

Diced cucumbers:

Add the parsley to tomato mixture and add the wheat, oil, lemon, mint, and salt. Toss the salad and serve with lettuce similar to that of a lettuce wrap. Tabouleh can keep for 2 days. Some people think it tastes better the second day! Enjoy.

Curry in a Hurry: Lemongrass Tofu in Red Curry Sauce

During Lent,  cooking vegetarian can be challenging if you aren’t use to it.  I decided, last minute, to make tofu in a light coconut curry sauce with lots of veggies.  It’s a light sauce because most recipes call for 2 cans of coconut milk, but I used 1 can and the dish came out great.  What a comfort food this is…By the time my husband, Adam, came home, the house was filled with the aroma of Jasmine rice.

Rice and Kitchen Gadgets

Prior to having my little one, Elias, I would cook the rice on the stove, which I still do, if time permits. But, there is a relief, similar to that with the crock pot, knowing that you can stick ingredients in a pot, and when a specific amount of time has passed, you know your dish is ready.  There is something to be said for that.  I didn’t appreciate these wonderful gadgets before, but now, as a mom with a toddler, they are coveted in the kitchen.  And on that particular night, I had zero stress playing with my son while the rice was cooking and once that warm button clicked, I knew dinner was done.  Curry is a different story, but nonetheless, was done “in a hurry”, hence, “Curry in a Hurry”.  I don’t think I could ever stick curry in a crock pot.  To me, that is borderline “sacrilegious”.  Leave the stews, soups, sauces, even roasts for the crock pot, if you must, but with Thai, keep it real.

Coconut Milk

This curry recipe was made with less coconut milk than most other recipes.  Curry with coconut milk is like butter in icing, DELICIOUS!  We eat very healthy in this house and if I want to have a Thai dish without feeling guilty, then something has to give.  Coming from a family history of heart disease, there are certain ingredients we just don’t eat, but it seems for the past twenty years or so, coconut milk has had a bad rap.  See this article on how coconut milk is making a comeback:

Bell Peppers

This is the time of year that the markets have a barrage of peppers: red, yellow, green, and orange.  For the this dish, I only used the red and yellow, but throwing in some more color would have been great.

Chef Martin Yan did a demonstration on the today show on how to “Chop bell peppers like a champion”. You can view Martin Yan’s demo by clicking here :                                                                             Go ahead and practice with 1 red and 1 yellow pepper.  You can use these in the recipe.


The difference between this curry recipe and others is lemongrass.  Lemongrass in curry? I had lemongrass spoiling in my fridge because I was lazy and didn’t soak it in water like you are supposed to do to preserve it. Why not experiment with some lemongrass?  Here is some background information on lemongrass.  Traditionally, you only eat the white parts, but, you can use the green parts for infusing flavor.  I chopped up 2 stalks very finely and in hot oil, while the tofu was getting golden.  When the tofu was ready, I just fished it out and left the tofu in the oil.  If I noticed the Lemongrass starting to get really dark, I took it out of the frying pan.

Recipe for Lemongrass Tofu in Red Curry Sauce.  

Light Tofu Red Curry

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 10 minutes                                                                                                                                                                                      Cook time: 30 minutes

  • 1 -19oz package of refrigerated firm tofu
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 1/4 cup of canola oil for frying tofu
  • 1-13.5oz. can of coconut milk (see note)
  • 1/4 cup of chopped fresh basil (thai basil is preferred, but not needed)
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onion
  • 2 stalks of lemongrass
  • 2Tbsp of Red curry paste
  • 1 lime
Remove tofu from package, remove any excess water, and pat dry.  Cut the tofu in cubes and pat dry again. Let the tofu sit and .  While the tofu is drying, chop the basil, onion, lemongrass, and peppers, and set aside.
Place oil and lemongrass in a large frying pan on medium high.  When oil is hot, lower heat just a little to medium and add the tofu. If the pan can’t hold all of the tofu, fry in batches. Have a plate with a paper towel on it to pull the oil from the fried tofu.  Each side should take about 3-4 minutes to get golden.  The tofu is done when it golden color and spongy.  Place cooked tofu on a plate with paper towel and repeat with other batch.  When all of the tofu has been cooked, remove lemongrass from oil and discard. Set tofu aside.
Drain some of the oil out and reserve just enough to saute the peppers and onions. Once finished, add chopped basil, peppers, and onion and cook the vegetables as desired. Some people prefer veggies crunchy and some like them tender.
“To each his/her own”… Once cooked, remove the vegetables and remove the oil from pan.  Set the vegetables aside.
Don’t pat dry the pan. Just pour out the oil and set the pan back on the hot stove on medium-high.
To make the curry sauce.  Pour coconut cream, not milk, into the pan. Reduce this down for about 2-3 minutes to release the oil and add the curry paste.  Use a whisk to stir the paste into the cream. Reduce heat to medium.  Let the curry-cream mix cook for about 2-3 minutes. Add the coconut milk and continue to whisk the sauce.  Once the sauce has come to a boil, mix the tofu and vegetables into the curry sauce.  Let simmer on low for 10 minutes. Serve over Jasmine rice with a quarter of the lime and some basil for garnish.  Enjoy!
Jasmine Rice:
Cook rice according to directions on package.  I use a rice cooker. Rinse rice before using to get rid of starch.  The ratio for cooking rice in a cooker or on the stove is 2:1. Two cups of water to one cup of rice. The other option is to cook it like spaghetti. This is tricky and requires skill because you have to make sure enough water is added. It also requires attention.  Use a rice cooker, save time. 🙂
Note: The coconut milk used should be the “regular”  kind as the “light” version has fillers.  Also, try not to shake the can because when coconut milk sits, the cream rises to the top. In colder weather, this is apparent, but in warmer weather, try putting the can in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. When ready to use the coconut milk, spoon the cream from the top and reserve the milk for later on in the recipe.