These creamy lightly spiced satay vegetables will become a staple. It’s quick to make and you can use whatever vegetables you have in the fridge! It was inspired by one of my favourite greengrocer stores. You may have an equally good one near your place.
Satay vegetables make the best batch cooking
This is the type of dish you can make with any kind of vegetables, tofu or even meat. It’s a classic and you must try it. Quick and delicious, as copious amounts of peanut butter and gentle spices will be required.
Just add some rice or noodles or even cauliflower rice. One of my favourites. Skip straight to the superfast recipe or have a little read about one of my favourite stores
The inspiration for this satay vegetables dish
One thing we’ve all learnt in the past year is the importance of family and friends. Local businesses have also become far more important to us.
My suburb has a small business that didn’t find a voice during the pandemic, rather they became a lion sized beacon of “normal living” and family values. That’s a big sentence, but this little business is the heart of Kogarah
Eve, is sitting outside on a brick wall surveying the shop with a mini collie on a lead. The dog is skittering about yapping at buses and passing cyclists while the its owner a long-time customer, grabs her weekly shop. I’ve never actually seen Eve outside the shop. She has badly veined legs and can’t walk far. It’s a testament to her long hours in a shop that is open from 8 am to 8 pm 6 days a week. She confides she is desperate to do more but can’t now and explains she has been here since she was a baby. In many ways that’s true. Eve and George her husband, took over the store 29 years ago. That was before she had 4 children and before vegetable stores became “Gourmet grocers”. All the children have worked in the store, tending the counter and stacking the displays. Two remain.
It’s been a massive 12 months for the family. They became a safe haven during covid. The contents of the shop spill out onto the street in a dazzlingly colourful tapestry of vegetables and fruit. The freshest you will see outside the Sydney markets themselves. George goes to the markets each and every morning, the pair of them rising at 5.30 am. She looks tired when she tells me the lines into the store were massive for months. I know, I was on the line too. I’d walk from my place with a backpack on and return with fresh wonderful vegetables (and a bottle of wine from the store next door. It was covid after all!!)
The shop just felt safe and homely. The freshness of the produce gave me, and seemingly others the feeling that at least there was fresh vegetables even if the world was a strange disease ridden place. The produce in all the colours of the rainbow felt safe and reassuring. So too is the openness and outdoor appeal of the shop, its come full circle. It’s market style shopping and the customers love it.
She has a defiant sparkle in her eye when she explains they just don’t try to be a gourmet grocer and can’t compete with that. They do what they have done for the last 29 years, and that’s sell the freshest most competitively priced produce they can. It’s not just fresh though. They care for it, tend to it and most importantly, store it properly at night. During the day it’s stacked tenderly and the pavement is swept, making the store, despite its ancient interior, neat.
Inside that small shop front you’ll find fresh eggs, dried pulses, nuts and drinks. You will usually find Eve these days too, looking after her grandson, who sits in a pram for as long as he can be contained. His young Mum is at the counter helping out until the baby can’t be managed.
If you have ever been to Kogarah, you will know this shop on the doorstep of the railway station. Like me you may not have been able to resist buying a perfect piece of fruit or herbs so fresh they could be straight from the garden. There’s always a line, almost like you have to join just to see why so many people are lining up
Do you know why it just looks so darn good? The perfectly stacked fruit and vegetables have helpful signs that say “Yummy Grapes” or ”Queensland bananas ” or “juicy pears”. It makes me feel like they have all been lovingly tested. You will also see very little is wrapped in plastic!
I feel so inspired each time I visit it starts a cooking frenzy. Does that happen to you?
This recipe is purely vegetables in their honour because that’s just what they sell. These Satay vegetables are creamy and comforting. That means they are just perfect for eating for days on end. Don’t tell anyone but I love leftovers, that’s my favourite thing to eat when I come home on dark winter nights.
Satay Vegetables with Tofu and Coconut
- 3 Tbsp red curry paste any brand, some are stronger than others
- 1 tbsp ginger grated
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- 3 tbsp oil 40-60ml
- 1 whole onion, cut into large dice medium to large
- 1 whole sweet potato, cut into medium cubes peeled, approx 2 cups-not too large
- 200 gm peanut butter crunchy or smooth, 1 cup
- 50 gm white sugar or palm sugar
- 250 ml water 1 cup
- 400 ml coconut cream 1 can
- 40 ml soy sauce 2 tablespoons, can be gluten free
- 20 ml lemon juice 1 tablespoon
To complete the satay!
- 1 whole large zucchini cut into large dice
- 1 whole red pepper (capsicum) seeded cut into large dice
- 200 gm marinated tofu cut into chunks, any flavour
- 50 gm roasted peanuts, chopped 1/2 cup
- 1/2 bunch coriander
- 20 ml soy sauce extra, 1 -2 Tablespoons
- 1/2 lemon extra 1-2 tablespoons
Making the base sauce for the vegetables you use
- Chop the onions into large chunks, crush the ginger and garlic
- Peel and dice the sweet potato (not too big). Grab a large pot and warm it
- Once the pot is warm add the oil the onion, garlic, ginger, curry paste and sweet potato and saute on low till just softened and fragrant. Add the water, sugar, peanut butter, lemon and soy sauce. Turn to low and stir well squishing the peanut butter in and making the mixture smooth
- Once nice and smooth add the coconut cream and simmer on very low ( you can use a lid) until the potato is fork tender. The sauce will cook out and get lots of flavour during this time. It will take around 10 minutes
Adding your favourite vegetables
- While the sauce is simmering chop the vegetables you are using. I used zucchini, red pepper and tofu. I like to use flavoured and marinated honey soy tofu as it doesn't taste as plain.
- Stir the sauce well and taste. This is when you will add a bit of extra flavour punch. you will probably need the extra soy and lemon and perhaps a sprinkle of salt. this ensures the sauce tastes great before you add other ingredients. Check that the sauce hasn't reduced too much. You can add 1/2 cup more water. water will come out of the vegetables though so don't panic
- Add the zucchini, peppers and tofu and simmer until they are just cooked, approximately 8-10 minutes. add spinach or snowpeas or anything soft right now at the end. stir and turn off the heat. test the sauce for seasoning.
- Serve with rice or noodles or quinoa, chopped coriander and lots of chopped peanuts
- You can also add any meat you like to the saty. Add it with the sweet potato so that it cooks through. you could use diced chicken or lean lamb. This could also be made with fish or salmon. This would be added in the second lot of vegetables (10 minutes cook)
- This satay can be made with any vegetables you like. Just remember to start the sauce off with the aromatics and the hard vegetables. You may be using potato or carrot. these are hard vegetables and will take a lot longer than others so start with them
- When using curry paste from a can it has lost a lot of its fresh flavour when it is sealed in the tin. You need to freshen it up a bit. That’s why I have added fresh ginger and garlic. Don’t skip this step.
- You can use stock or water with a stock cube instead of water for more flavour
- Cooking the sauce down with the hard vegetables gives it time to get all flavoured up. You can also add chopped stalks or roots of coriander to the base sauce when you add the ginger and garlic too.
- Remember when adding vegetables the softer they are they need to be added at the last minute. You can add any other vegetable you have, other coloured capsicums, broccoli, cauliflower, cooked eggplant, snow peas, peas anything you want. But watch out for how long each vegetable needs to cook. For example, if you are adding cauliflower it needs a lot more cooking than snowpeas. That means you only add snow peas or spinach after everything is cooked. They will only take about two minutes or to be stirred through just before serving.
- I like to use marinated tofu for this instead of plain. this is the kind that has a honey and soy coating or sometimes a chilli coating. Just discard the marinade left in the packet and cut up
- Curry pastes are all different. Some pastes in jars are not very strong, some are mighty hot. Try a little bit of your paste when you open it to test how hot it is. (don’t worry it is cooked). If its very hot use 2 tablespoons if not use 3-4.