Over the weekend I roasted a pastured chicken from one of our favorite local farms, and on the following evening the leftover chicken inspired a quick, turmeric-rich coconut curry full of all sorts of good things: summer squash, green peppers, and sweet corn, plus lots of flavor and pungency from fresh ginger, garlic, and jalapeños. And, although we really enjoyed the roast chicken on the first night, it was this creamy, flavor-packed curry that truly stole our hearts.
A simple curry is one of my favorite quick weeknight meals, and it’s also a great way to put leftover animal proteins, such as roasted chicken or pork, to good use. These proteins tend to dry out in the fridge and can really benefit from a flavorful simmer with coconut milk, spices and aromatics. I like to bulk up my curries with lots of fresh vegetables so that only a couple handfuls of leftover shredded meat are needed; this makes for a satisfying meal in which the protein is more of a supporting player than the main attraction (also making this a great strategy for getting more vegetables into any non-veggie-lovers you might cook for).
Although I love to make my own spice blends, sometimes I just want to go the quick-and-dirty route, i.e., use a packaged curry powder. The one I had on hand contained coriander, turmeric, brown mustard, and paprika, so I also added ground cumin to the mix, as its smoky goodness is always welcome in my book. I also added a little extra turmeric powder to brighten up the color of the curry. So if you’re using a store-bought curry powder, adding another spice or two that it’s missing is an easy way to customize your curry without making curry powder from scratch.
Coconut chicken curry with summer squash and sweet corn
Although I used leftover chicken in my curry, the recipe would also be great with leftover pork or beef, sliced or shredded; or substitute tofu or tempeh for a meat-free version (also subbing vegetable broth for the chicken broth). I like Native Forest brand coconut milk, which is packaged in BPA-free cans.
3 tablespoons cold-pressed coconut oil
1 medium onion, sliced (about 1 cup)
1 zucchini or yellow squash, cut into quarter-moons (about 1-1/2 cups)
1 mild green pepper (such as a pale green Italian pepper), chopped
1/2 jalapeno, sliced
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons curry powder (homemade or store-bought)
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
kosher or celtic salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup full-fat coconut milk
1-1/2 cups chicken broth or stock
2-1/2 cups leftover cooked chicken, shredded
kernels from 1 ear of sweet corn (about 1/2 cup)
juice of 1 lime
steamed rice, for serving
chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
Heat coconut oil in a large skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, zucchini, and green pepper and cook until vegetables are starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Add jalapeño, ginger, and garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add curry powder, turmeric and cumin and stir for a minute to toast the spices.
Add coconut milk and broth to the skillet, stirring to pick up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low and cook gently until the liquid begins to thicken, about 5 minutes. Add chicken and corn and cook until chicken is heated through, about 5 minutes. Stir in lime juice. Taste and add a little more salt and black pepper, if needed.
Serve immediately with rice or grain of your choice, garnished with scallions, parsley, sesame seeds and extra lime wedges.