You guys may remember me mentioning that I live in a major tourist area and also that this is my first summer living in this area. Well, all summer my sister and I have been riding our bikes to town on the weekends because there is this gorgeous park that we can cut through with all of these steep trails and paths. We kind-of live on top of a really tall hill so it’s downhill the whole way and so much fun. (it’s coming home that our legs pay for this). It was crazy busy when we went last month. We had to get off of our bikes and walk just to get through the crowds. There have been food trucks stationed everywhere and tents with open markets selling na-na to the tourists all summer.
Some of the days we went, the beach was so packed you couldn’t see any sand, just a very colorful sea of color and movement. What I don’t understand is how they stand getting in the water. I mean, it’s not cold, in fact, we’ve had some pretty nice warm days, but the heat of the day only last for a few hours. There has not been one day that could have possibly tempted me to get into the lake, but that’s because I’m the one in the family that’s always cold. Lela, the same sister I ride with, has been begging me to swim but I just don’t see it happening.
Anyway, we went riding last weekend and it’s like a ghost town compared to last time. Like someone flipped a switch at the end of February. Pretty crazy. We laughed about the fact that the guy at our favorite ice cream stop, who was occasionally a bit stingy during the herds of customers, gave us like twice as much as usual. We decided he must have been pretty bored after such a letdown in business.
I’m sad that the summer is almost over. It flew by so stinking fast. However, I know that most of you are reading this from the Northern Hem and probably getting ready for the warmer seasons so I guess that makes this a good time for this recipe.
I had all of this beautiful fresh basil that I wanted to use while it’s still in season. That’s what inspired this recipe. I didn’t have any meat on hand so I decided that it would be a good time to go meatless. Whenever I make something vegan or vegetarian I always feel the need to reassure you all that I will not be quitting meat cold turkey (ha, no pun intended), but sometimes you just don’t need to add meat.
But, yeah, this is a vegan recipe if you skip the fish sauce, oh, and the pad thai paste (pretty sure that has fish in it too). Since I’m always writing recipes and categorizing them I end up inadvertently labeling them as I make them. For example, this recipe can be corn free if you just skip the baby corn and the little bit of cornstarch for the slurry, it’s gluten-free, it’s vegetarian, it’s vegan, it’s egg free, dairy free, nut free, and geez, what’s left after that I don’t know.
It was good enough to make us all think that we could actually be vegans if we felt like it, but then we remembered bacon….and chicken…..and , yeah. Nope, there’s no way that will ever happen but it’s still a great recipe that you definitely should try even if you’re not vegan or gluten intolerant or allergic to dairy…….
Oh, and a quick note on the ingredients: the hot red pepper I used was this kind that we happened to get at our produce stand this week and, I think , was called a rocoto pepper. At least that’s the closest thing I could find when I searched the internet for the name of a red pepper with black seeds (they were really hot). You can use any kind of spicy pepper, sauce, or dried spice. It’s just to add your desired level of kick. Then on the pad thai paste. I’m not sure if that can be purchased where you live but it is such a great flavor addition to this recipe. However, if you can’t find it you could probably sub pad thai sauce or just skip it.
- 1 cup full fat coconut milk
- 5 cups water (plus more if needed)
- 2 1/2 cups uncooked brown rice
- 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 large carrots, cut into matchsticks
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into small pieces
- 1/2 of 1 small hot red pepper, chopped (you sub dried spice like cayenne to taste)
- 1/2 tablespoon, freshly grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 cup shelled sweet peas
- 1 can baby corn (or sub with another veggie)
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce (skip for vegans)
- 1 tablespoon padthai paste (skip for vegans)
- 1 tablspoon tamarind paste
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup tomato sauce
- 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch + 2 tablespoons water
- 2 cups cooked lentils (I used canned)
- Combine coconut milk and water in a medium pot and bring to a soft boil. Add salt and rice, cover with lid, and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until all liquid is absorbed snd rice is al dente. Add more water if needed. Turn off heat when done and stir in sesame seeds and oil. Cover to keep warm.
- While rice is cooking, add carrots, garlic, onion, ginger, peppers, and sesame oil to a wok or large pan and saute over high heat until starting to brown, about 4 minutes. Add 1/2 cup water and continue cooking until liquid is almost completely evaporated. Add all remaining ingredients up until cornstarch and stir to combine.
- In a small bowl mix cornstarch with 2 tablespoons water and quickly stir into sauce. Add lentils and reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Serve hot over rice.