On busy weeknights, we take our dinner shortcuts wherever we can find them. But this doesn't require sacrificing healthy home cooking.
Make smart choices — as in this recipe for red curry potatoes and chickpeas — and you can have a great from-scratch dinner on the table in under 30 minutes.
The potatoes are a great example. I speed up the cooking by microwaving them for five minutes before adding them to the pan. This saves a little time at the stove, requires no extra effort and doesn't compromise the flavour or texture of the finished dish.
I also turn to jarred Thai red curry paste to provide the bulk of the flavour for the dish. This widely available paste (check the grocer's international aisle) packs big, bold flavour that has kick, but not a lot of heat. And it marries perfectly with starchy ingredients, such as the potatoes and chickpeas.
And for deep, lush and totally effortless flavour, I use canned coconut milk for the liquid. Looking to cut fat? Don't hesitate to use low-fat coconut milk. It won't be quite so lush, but the flavours will still be great.
To make the meal even more substantial (and to stretch it to feed six people), add the meat from a rotisserie chicken at the same time as the potatoes.
Red Curry Potatoes and Chickpeas
Start to finish: 20 minutes
3 large Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 2.5-cm (1-inch) chunks
50 ml (1/4 cup) water
5 ml (1 tsp) ground cumin
5 ml (1 tsp) cinnamon
1 can (426 ml/15 oz) coconut milk
15 ml (1 tbsp) Thai red curry paste
1 can (398 ml/14 oz) chickpeas, drained
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
50 ml (1/4 cup) chopped fresh cilantro
5 ml (1 tsp) cider or white vinegar
2 scallions, finely chopped
In a medium microwave-safe bowl, combine potatoes and water. Microwave on high until potatoes are partly cooked, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large dry saute pan over medium-high, toast cumin and cinnamon for 1 minute. Add coconut milk and curry paste, then bring to a simmer.
Add chickpeas and red onion, then return to a simmer. Once potatoes have cooked, add to pan, toss, then cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 12 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper, then stir in cilantro and vinegar. Serve topped with scallions.
Makes 4 servings.
Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 520 calories; 220 calories from fat (40 per cent of total calories); 24 g fat (20 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 68 g carbohydrate; 13 g protein; 12 g fibre; 560 mg sodium.