Sunday, January 13, 2008

Curried Peanut and Tomato Sauce

I'm not sure where to start with this post. I had this recipe for Curried Peanut and Tomato Soup from Epicurious.com for a while so I finally decided to make it. It calls for two tablespoons of curry powder. I still have some of that awesome madras tamarind curry powder I got for my birthday a while back so I decided to use one tablespoon of that and one tablespoon of the sweet curry powder I get at The Spice House.

It was delicious, but almost too spicy for my (not so) delicate little taste buds, and it was watery. So watery that the onions and tomatoes pushed to the front of the stage instead of blending into the ensemble as they were hired to do. I was not in love with it. But the flavors were there, so I thought maybe it just needed a little magic stick blending.

And justifying my faith in its mystical magical ways, it cut those onions and tomatoes down to size (pun intended). But it was still too spicy to eat by itself. You would think I would have learned from the Carrot Ginger Soup that two tablespoons of any spice is too much in a recipe. But no, I had to go ahead and put it all in there. And that madras curry powder is one hot powder. So what to do with this too-hot-to-eat-by-itself-but-delicious soup?

Why, make a roux and turn it into a curried mushroom sauce of course! I don't remember why I bought the mushrooms, but they were just a day or two away from a full languish in the vegetable drawer of the fridge. If I remember correctly, they may have been the victims of one of those times when I forget what I am making and buy enough separate ingredients to make three different dishes instead of one. What a happy accident, because I would never have thought of it otherwise. And mushrooms were the perfect addition - they absorb so much of the flavor and heat that it really tamed it down, while adding their own subtle earthiness to the mix. I hadn't really planned for it but I had some bread that was slightly stale so I toasted that up and spread the mushroom sauce on top and it was delicious. So delicious that I decided to forget the soup idea altogether and worked on it as a sauce. I thought it might work well with pasta.

And here it is - the final product. And it did go well with the pasta, although I think it might be just a little bit better with noodles, or rice. I thickened it up, which made it possible to leave the tomatoes and onions chopped without having them dominate. I toned down the curry powder and that helped the other flavors come out a little more.

There are a lot of variations possible with this recipe. There are a number of vegetables that would work well with (or even without) the mushrooms. It is so good I'm already thinking of making it again. Maybe for lunches next week . . .
Home Cookin Chapter: Soups and Stews
Curried Peanut And Tomato Sauce

Serves 4
2 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp sweet curry powder
1 tsp madras tamarind curry powder
1 (14-oz.) can diced tomatoes in juice, chopped if large, reserving juice
1-3/4 cups broth
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

1 lb. sliced mushrooms
1 Tbsp vegetable oil

Cook onion, salt, and pepper in the 2 tablespoons oil in a 2- to 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add flour and curry powder and cook, stirring frequently, 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and broth and cook, stirring frequently, until sauce thickens.

While the sauce is cooking, h
eat 1 tablespoon oil in medium skillet. Add mushrooms and cook until just done - do not overcook or they will get rubbery. Set them aside. Once the sauce has started to thicken, add the peanut butter and stir until smooth. Continue to cook until sauce thickens to the consistency you want.

Add the mushrooms and stir in the cilantro before serving. Serve over pasta or rice.

loosely adapted from Gourmet Quick Kitchen February 2006
Epicurious.com © CondéNet, Inc. All rights reserved.

Exported from Home Cookin 5.5 (www.mountain-software.com)

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