Peas and carrots are more than a line from “Forrest Gump,” or what movie extras mumble as they make fake conversation in the background of scenes.
They also were the cornerstone vegetables of my childhood. And I loved them, unlike some other veggies (I’m looking at you, broccoli).
They’re still my two favorite vegetables to this day, but you can only eat them with salt, pepper and butter for so long until you start to wonder how to spice things up — literally.
I found a recipe from “The Splendid Table,” the public radio food show, that energizes peas and carrots with Caribbean-inspired spices and coconut milk, and took me about 25 minutes to make.
The recipe calls for fresh English peas and Thumbelina carrots, but I kept things simple with frozen peas and fresh carrots, which can be found at any grocery store.
Thumbelina carrots are about the same size and shape as golf balls and have a sweeter taste than standard carrots. I picked up rainbow-colored carrots (orange, purple, white) instead.
If you use frozen peas, as I did, all you need to do is let them thaw and then dump them in the curry at the end.
I made two versions: The first time, I followed the recipe exactly and used more vegetable stock than coconut milk. The sauce turned out thinner than I expected and seemed to rely heavily on the spices.
On my second attempt, I reversed the measurements for the vegetable stock and coconut milk in hopes of making the curry thicker and the flavors balanced. I liked this version better. It helps if you let the sauce simmer for a while before adding the peas and carrots.
Just keep in mind that the extra coconut milk will sweeten the curry more, so consider adding more spices if you want it to keep its kick.
I loved the roasted carrots in this dish. The slight caramelization gave them a nice smoky flavor.
Evan Thompson: 425-339-3427, firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @ByEvanThompson.
Peas and carrots with Jamaican curry
2 cups shelled fresh English peas
1 pound Thumbelina carrots, peeled, or regular carrots, peeled and chopped into bite-size pieces
4 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon curry powder
½ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¾ cup vegetable stock
½ cup coconut milk
½ teaspoon light brown sugar
Tip: Fresh peas really make this dish, but if they are not in season, you can prepare this recipe with thawed frozen peas. Just skip step 2 and add the peas at the beginning of step 5.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Prepare an ice bath.
Blanch the peas in the boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes. Drain the peas, shock in the ice bath for 5 minutes, then drain thoroughly.
Toss the carrots in a large bowl with 2 tablespoons of the oil, salt and pepper. Spread them on a sheet pan and roast until fork-tender, 12 to 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a saute pan over high heat, then add the curry powder, allspice and cumin. Allow the spices to sizzle in the oil for about 30 seconds, then stir in the stock, coconut milk and brown sugar.
Simmer for 5 minutes, stir in the peas and roasted carrots, and serve immediately.
— Adapted from The Splendid Table (www.splendidtable.org).