Jamaican Curried Spring Vegetables with Red Beans and Coconut-Cashew Rice Recipe

It is deliciously easy to get the protein and satisfaction you crave from a plant-based entrée. You don’t have to swear off meat forever, but for just one day or one meal, try enjoying something a little more veg-centric. In the process you can shrink your carbon footprint, save moneyn, and get a little healthier by eating more plants, says Twin Cities chef and cookbook author Robin Asbell, who created this recipe for Real Food.

Jamaica is a vegetarian paradise where tasty plants, spices, and coconut milk combine to make flavor-packed masterpieces. Rastafarian chefs make the most of what is fresh in the melting pot cuisine that combines African, Indian, Chinese, and other influences that have come to the Island since the beginning of the spice trade, says Asbell.

Now is a perfect time to lighten up and enjoy the seasonal vegetables that are coming to market—especially locally grown asparagus that is popping up. Enjoy them in this seasonally inspired recipe, and you’ll find you won’t even miss meat.

What’s in Season? Keep an eye out for a variety of local veggies in the coming months with this chart from Minnesota Grown here.

Jamaican Curried Spring Vegetables with Red Beans and Coconut-Cashew Rice

Makes 4 Servings (About 4 cups curry and 3 cups rice)

Coconut-Cashew Rice
2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut shreds
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup basmati rice
1/2 cup roasted, unsalted cashews, chopped

1 (15-ounce) can coconut milk
4 large scallions, separate white and green parts and sliver
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large jalapeño peppers (or 1 Scotch Bonnet), minced
1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 red radishes, quartered
2 cups snow peas
1 (15-ounce) can red beans, drained
cayenne or hot sauce to taste, if desired

1. Prepare the rice first. In a 1-quart pot with a tight-fitting lid, toast the coconut over medium heat, stirring constantly just until it is golden, and then add the water and salt. Increase heat to high. When the water is boiling, add the basmati rice, return to a boil, and cover tightly. Cook for 15 minutes, until all the water is absorbed. Fluff the rice with a fork and let stand, off the heat, until time to serve. Do not add cashews.

2. For the curry, pour the coconut milk into a large sauté pan and add the white parts of the scallions, thyme, garlic, turmeric, allspice, salt, and jalapeños or Scotch Bonnet, if using. Over medium-high heat, bring the coconut milk to a boil, and then reduce to a vigorous simmer for about 2 minutes, until slightly thickened. Add the asparagus, radishes, snow peas, and red beans. Return to a boil, and cook for about 2 minutes just until the vegetables are crisp-tender.

3. Taste for seasoning, add more salt or, if it is not hot enough, cayenne or hot sauce to taste.

4. Stir the cashews into the warm rice and serve 1/4 of the rice topped with 1/4 of the curry. Sprinkle with reserved scallion greens and serve.

Nutrition info (per serving) Curried Spring Vegetables with Red Beans & Rice: Calories 590 (243 From Fat); Fat 29g (Sat. 19g); Chol 0mg; Sodium 786mg; Carb 73g; Fiber 10g; Protein 16g

Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine, and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her son, who used to eat beets and Indian food as a preschooler, will one day again think of real food as more than something you need to eat before dessert and be inspired by his younger brother, who is now into trying new foods.