Weeknight Cooking

The Simplest Vegetarian Green Curry & Noodle Bowls, Ready in Under 30 Minutes

Bring on the coziest, easiest weeknight dinner.

November 26, 2018
Photo by Rocky Luten

Let me paint you a picture of me on a winter weeknight: I arrive home, fling down my bag, and within 30 seconds have already changed into the softest oversized clothing I can get my hands on. I crank the heat and double up on socks, because my apartment is draftier than a helicopter landing pad in a high-budget action movie.

Next up? Some sort of noodle bowl. I've said it before, and I'll stand by it for life: There's nothing cozier than a big bowl of noodles, I've recently added a new iteration that's delightfully greener and more veg-forward than the cheesier fare I keep on rotation. It's a flavorful, nuanced vegetarian green curry so warm and hearty, I never miss the meat.

My favorite version stars seared mushrooms, soft butternut squash, and curry-soaked broccoli stalks. But I've used this technique—if you'll allow me to call bringing a pot of something to simmer a "technique"—on most any vegetable, from green beans to cauliflower to carrots to cabbage. I serve it ladled over a big tangle of chewy rice noodles, and it's just about the coziest thing to ever happen to me on a Monday. Because, did I mention it comes together in just 25 minutes? It comes together in just 25 minutes.

Thai green curry paste is typically a blend of chilis, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, spices, shallot, and sometimes basil, cilantro, fish sauce, lime juice, lime leaves, and/or sugar. Find a brand you love, and stock up: It could make cardboard taste amazing. You could also make your own and freeze it in ice cube molds to store for months—use a ratio of one cube per can of coconut milk.

From there, just follow a simple formula:

  1. Set a pot of water to boil for your noodles. (If you're using mushrooms, give them a deep sear on all sides before you get going with the aromatics, so they have room in the pan to get all nice and brown—this will add to the deep, hearty flavor of the final dish.)
  2. Sauté your aromatics in a cooking fat. I like to use refined coconut oil or avocado oil as the fat, but you can use whatever you have on hand for high-heat stovetop cooking. Since the Thai green curry paste already contains tons of aromatics, you're really just creating flavor upside here with whatever you want to sauté. Don't stress too much if you forget to grab shallots or scallions—feel free to swap in a diced onion. Add extra garlic if you like.
  3. Then, fry the curry paste in more of the cooking fat to bring out all the flavor of those blended ingredients. You'll know you've done the trick when you can smell them.
  4. Add coconut milk and any other vegetables, and bring everything to a boil, then simmer until the flavors meld. If you want to add a protein like shrimp, tofu, or chicken, do so toward the end and cook until the protein is heated through—in the case of chicken or shrimp, make sure it's thoroughly cooked in the center before removing from heat.
  5. Serve over noodles (or rice if you prefer).

The oversized soft pajamas are optional, but highly recommended.

What's your go-to cozy weeknight dinner formula? Let me know in the comments!

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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Ella Quittner

Written by: Ella Quittner

Ella Quittner is a contributing writer and the Absolute Best Tests columnist at Food52. She covers food, travel, wellness, lifestyle, home, novelty snacks, and internet-famous sandwiches. You can follow her on Instagram @equittner, or Twitter at @ellaquittner. She also develops recipes for Food52, and has a soft spot for all pasta, anything spicy, and salty chocolate things.