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Thai Red Curry Vegetables & Rice
Here’s a warm red curry recipe to keep you cozy as fall approaches. This vegan red curry bowl is packed with healthy vegetables like broccolini, shiitake mushrooms and red peppers. The thick sauce is spicy and comforting with hints of ginger, lime and coconut.
What is Curry?
If you’re confused about curry, you’re not alone. Curry is a fairly generic term used to describe a main ingredient (often chicken or legumes) cooked with spices. Curries originated on the Indian subcontinent but have become popular all over the world. Hence the very broad definition. Indian curries, for example, are often dry curry dishes and are served over rice. A dry curry means that the sauce is cooked down to leave little liquid in the final dish. Indian curries use curry powder — often a blend that includes turmeric, cumin, coriander and chilies.
What is Thai Red Curry?
Thai curries, on the other hand, are often wet curries. Thai curries are made using curry paste that is often combined with coconut milk to make a creamy sauce. Cilantro, lemongrass, galangal (Thai ginger) and chilies are featured in many Thai curry recipes. If you’re browsing a Thai restaurant’s menu you might see red curry, yellow curry and green curries. Panang and Massaman curries are also Thai curry dishes.
Red Thai curry – featured in this vegan recipe — is a fiery curry. Red chili peppers are combined with garlic, lemongrass, shallots, coriander and kaffir lime peel to make the paste. The paste is then combined with coconut milk for a spicy, but sweet tangy flavor.
About This Vegan Thai Red Curry Recipe
This Thai red curry with vegetables and rice is silly easy to put together. So easy, in fact, that red curry dishes are often a featured meal on my family’s summer camping trips. Check out my Ultimate Guide to Vegan Camping Recipes to see my suggestions for on-the-road vegan meals. In addition to being easy, Thai red curry is a great way to eat healthy vegetables in a fun and exciting way.
I don’t make my own red curry paste for this one as it’s hard to get some of the key ingredients where I live. Kaffir lime leaves and galangal, for example, aren’t readily available. Instead, I use Thai Kitchen’s Red Curry Paste, which is an easy to find vegan product. I toast the red curry paste with scallions, ginger and garlic and then combine it with coconut milk, tamari and peanut butter for a rich and creamy sauce.
I add broccolini, red peppers, zucchini and squash right before serving so that they maintain their bright colors and a little bit of crunch. This veggie-packed broth is great served with ramen noodles, as I did with my Thai Red Curry Ramen Noodle Bowl. For this vegan dish though, I decided to serve it with some brown rice. Don’t miss the opportunity to make this vegan dinner extra flavorful by serving it with some limes as an optional garnishment. I also like to sprinkle on some fresh cilantro, sliced red chilies and chopped peanuts. Another favorite – mint. It’s not traditional, but I do love catching the flavor of it from bite-to-bite.
How Do You Get Rice Island in Your Thai Red Curry Bowl?
It wouldn’t be fair of me to not give you the details on that pretty brown rice island in the center of my bowl, would it? This is so easy to do! To make my rice island, I simply pack cooked rice into my mini glass serving bowls (see below), line it up in the center of my shallow serving bowl (the better to present my masterpieces) and flip it over and tap the bottom to release the rice. It’s the perfect serving size.
A Little Thai Red Curry Food Science Before You Go?
As you know if you follow me, I like to explore different cooking techniques to pull as much flavor as I can out of each ingredient. I have two tricks I used in this recipe that I think are really helpful. Here they are…
Simmer Your Shiitakes
If you’ve cooked with mushrooms in the past, you know that they are the ultimate absorbers. Throw them in a frying pan with some oil and they’ll suck it up in no time. Then they’ll want more. The end result is often an oil-sodden pile of mushrooms. To avoid this, I simmer my mushrooms in a small amount of water. That way the oil crisps the mushrooms instead of being absorbed into them.
Toast Your Thai Red Curry Paste
Before I add any liquids to my stockpot, I like to toast my red curry paste with the scallions, garlic and ginger. Toasting the paste (a trick I also use with tomato paste) brings out the flavors in the paste in a way that just combining it with the coconut milk would not. This only takes a few extra minutes, so be sure to take advantage of getting the most from this wonderful ingredient!
What’s in My Kitchen to Make This Thai Red Curry Vegetables & Rice Recipe Easier?
Want to know what tools and resources I keep on hand to make my vegan cooking even easier? Here’s a short list of what helped me create this blog post and recipe. For the complete list, visit my Shop where you can find the kitchen gadgets I like as well as a list of books that I recommend.
Before I get into cooking, I want to share these napkins. I found these on Etsy over a year ago and, not only do I LOVE them, I buy them as gifts for nearly everyone I know.
These napkins are upcycled and reusable, allowing you to not only avoid throwing away paper products but to also reuse fabrics – a small but significant way to cut back on water, dyes and chemicals used in the production process.
These napkins are so darling (they come in lots of different patterns and colors) and they’re machine washable. I just throw them in with whatever load of laundry I’m doing. They don’t wrinkle easily, so a quick fold will have them back on your table doing what they were meant to do… be reused!
Designed to serve pasta, I use these shallow dinner bowls all. the. time. I love that I can present all of the ingredients of a dish without over-serving in terms of portion. With a standard bowl, food ends up being stacked and that’s no way to display all of your hard work. These bowls are an inexpensive, practical way to present everything from pasta bowls, curry bowls and burrito bowls.
No, that’s not the brand. It’s just the idea! But, I own this set of Global™ knives and They’re some of my most prized possessions in the kitchen. This set is universally well-rated for the at-home chef and will get you a good, solid set of knives without totally breaking the bank.
I know you must be thinking – but I already have a whisk! I get it, I do. It’s easy to go overboard on kitchen gadgets. But, you really do need this whisk if you’re into Southeast Asian cooking. In order to add miso paste to a recipe, you first need to make a slurry – a combination of miso paste and water (or broth). This step means that you’ll have the umami-packed flavor of miso in every smooth sip of soup.
Need more proof? A miso whisk has a smaller head with stiffer wires then a regular whisk. It’s not only perfect for whisking miso, but it also helps to blend things like peanut butter and curry paste into recipes.
Need more convincing? Kids snacks. They’re great for doling out just the right number of goldfish or holding peanut butter for apple dipping. As an added bonus, I even used them to create my rice island in my Thai Red Curry Vegetables and Rice recipe.
Making tasty curries at home doesn’t have to be hard! When I’m looking for a cozy dinner on a chilly evening, my Thai Red Curry Ramen Noodle Bowl is one of my go-to vegan meals. To keep this dinner easy, healthy and vegan, I use Thai Kitchen’s Red Curry Paste. It’s got all of the ingredients that I can’t find locally, like kaffir lime leaves and galangal, making it easy to bring this healthy Thai dinner to my table in Colorado.
Thai Red Curry Vegetable and Rice Bowl
Here’s a warm red curry recipe to keep you cozy as fall approaches. This vegan red curry bowl is served with brown rice and packed with healthy vegetables like broccolini, shiitake mushrooms and red peppers. The thick sauce is spicy and comforting with hints of ginger, lime and coconut. Eating vegan never tasted so good!
- 2 cups dry brown Basmati rice
- 4 cups water
- 12-15 shiitake mushrooms washed, destemmed and sliced
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tbsp coconut oil divided
- 1 scallion washed and sliced thin (with the white partsseparated from the green parts)
- 1 tbsp fresh garlic minced
- 1 tbsp fresh ginger minced
- 2 tbsp Thai red curry paste I like to use Thai Kitchen's Red Curry Paste
- 2 tbsp peanut butter unsweetened
- 2 tbsp tamari
- 1 14 oz can unsweetened, full fat coconut milk
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 zucchini washed and sliced into rounds
- 1/2 yellow squash washed and sliced into rounds
- 1 red pepper washed, deseeded and sliced into strips
- 2 bunches broccolini washed and trimmed
- 1 Thai red chili washed and sliced thin, as optional garnishment
- 1 lime washed and cut into wedges, as optional garnishment
- mint leaves washed and destemmed, as optional garnishment
- cilantro washed and destemmed, as optional garnishment
- peanuts chopped, as optional garnishment
Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a medium-sized sauce pan.Add the rice and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook until the rice is soft, but still slightly chewy and the water has cooked off.Set aside.
Heat up a large stockpot. When hot, add the shiitake mushrooms and ¼ cup of water. Simmer the mushrooms until the water has almost cooked off. About 6-8 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of the coconut oil and, keeping the heat at medium-low, sauté the mushrooms until they are just slightly crispy. Remove the mushrooms from the pan and set aside.
Add remaining tablespoon of coconut oil to the stock pot along with the scallion whites, garlic and ginger. Briefly sauté until fragrant. About 1-2 minutes. Be careful not to burn the ginger or garlic as they will become bitter.
Add the Thai red curry paste and stir to combine. Toast the red curry paste until it becomes fragrant. About 1-2 minutes.
Add the coconut milk, water, peanut butter and tamari. Whisk the broth until the red curry paste and peanut butter is fully dissolved. A miso whisk is particularly helpful here. See my What’s in My Kitchen to Make This Thai Red Curry Vegetables & Rice Recipe Easier section for more details.
Bring the broth to a simmer and add the mushrooms.
Prepare your serving bowls by adding the rice to the bowl. To make the rice island, pack the rice into a small serving dish (see my What’s in My Kitchen to Make This Thai Red Curry Vegetables & Rice Recipe Easier section for more details) and flip the small serving bowl upside-down into the center of the large serving bowl. Tap the bottom of the small serving bowl to release the rice.
Just before serving, add the broccolini, squash,zucchini and red pepper to the simmering broth. Continue to cook until the vegetables are bright in color but maintain their crispness. About 5 minutes. Serve immediately by spooning the broth around the rice island. Top with optional red chilies, lime wedges, fresh cilantro, mint leaves and chopped peanuts.
About Herbivore’s Kitchen
Herbivore’s Kitchen is a blog run by me, a plant-based home chef and aspiring food photographer. I switched my and my family’s diet to a plant-based diet after learning about the health benefits of going vegan. Making this change has prompted a variety of food and holistic-lifestyle related questions that I explore through this blog. I talk about how to pick and prepare the most nutritious foods, to how to reduce waste at home, to how to live a more sustainable lifestyle while on the road.