When making meals for special guests, how do your meals change?
Unless we are making a buffet of food, I try to make meals that I will also be able to eat. That means I make vegan dishes. For picky omnivores, we may opt to supplement with meat.
Depending on the guest, I will pick recipes that are, let’s just say, a bit more indulgent. If Rob and I are cooking you dal bhat, one of our favourite meals, simple with lentils and rice, you know we have nothing to prove to you in the kitchen. For us, we can make it as fast as the rice cooker makes the rice as it is filled with cupboard staples and we will both fight over the leftovers.
Now, if Rob whips up his legendary pad thai, then you know we are aiming to impress (or I am too tired to cook, hehe, or I have a craving for pad thai!). We usually have the ingredients on hand except for the fresh sprouts, and with its custom single serving plating, we don’t make it for ourselves very often.
If I am in the mood, I may very well pull out all my tricks and make something fancy like Moroccan Vegetable Phyllo Rolls with Balsamic Maple Sauce. Stars may need to collide just right for that to happen again (just kidding!).
Other times, I will aim for something rich and satisfying but still relatively simple to make. Enter the meal-in-a-bowl soup. With a side of bread for guests (and Rob).
I had been eyeing this recipe for a Sweet Pepper Coconut Corn Chowder for a while. A creamy coconut-based soup filled with chickpeas, red peppers with a dash of heat from chiles. However, I was turned off by using not 1, but 2 cans of coconut milk (that’s just plain superfluous). While I know it would be even more decadent with 2 cans, I opted for just one can of full-fat coconut milk. When I made this I didn’t have fresh corn, so I substituted a can of cream-style corn but fresh corn would be uber delicious.
As I said, the flavours worked so well together – sweet from the peppers, creamy from the coconut milk and creamed corn, heat from the chilies and bulk from the chickpeas. If you use 2 full cans of coconut milk, you will likely need the full amount of water in the original recipe (2 cups). As I only had 1 can and used creamed-style corn, I used less water and even then thought it was a bit thin for my liking. Another option would be to partially puree the soup, too. Anyhow, add liquid as you see fit. The flavours are already spot on.
Sweet Pepper Coconut Corn Chowder
Adapted from ExtraVeganZa
1 tablespoon coconut oil, or your oil of choice
1 medium whole leek, thoroughly cleaned, white and light green parts thinly sliced
3 medium carrots, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon Aleppo chili flakes (optional)
1 green chile pepper, stemmed and seeded, minced
2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained well if canned
2 sweet bell peppers (red and yellow), chopped
1 tsp sea salt, or to taste
2 cups corn kernels, fresh, frozen or canned (I used a 540mL can of cream-style corn)
14-ounce can of coconut milk
1 cup water (or less)
1. In a medium pot, heat the coconut oil on medium-low heat. Add the leek, carrots, garlic, chili flakes and green chile and saute until they have softened, around 5-10 minutes.
2. Once the leeks have softened, stir in the chickpeas, salt, red and yellow peppers, corn, coconut milk, and water.
3. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and serve immediately.