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Thai Red Curry with Roasted Eggplant: Plant-forward cooking for a healthy heart

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SALT LAKE CITY — To mark February's Heart Health Month, Intermountain Healthcare chefs are encouraging plant-forward cooking to promote a healthy heart and body.

Plant-forward meals make plant foods — most often, vegetables — the focus of each meal, without necessarily excluding animal products.

"Plant-forward meals are easier to make than you might think, plus they're delicious and satisfying," said Chef Christopher Delissio with Intermountain Healthcare. "Plant-forward cooking also can help balance a diet heavy in meat and carbs with fresh fruits and vegetables, prepared in a creative way."

Thai Red Curry with Roasted Eggplant is a recipe using eggplant in place of animal proteins such as beef, chicken or shrimp, commonly used in Thai curry dishes. Eggplant is a nutrient-rich, dense vegetable that's high in antioxidants and promotes heart health. Its texture and flavor are perfect for this recipe.

Additional ingredients, such as coconut milk, allow for a plant-based cream sauce, and the peppers are packed with vitamin C. The ginger and turmeric in this recipe are big contributors to heart health, said Sara Browning, registered dietitian nutritionist at Intermountain Healthcare. Ginger and turmeric are natural anti-inflammatories, which is important to maintaining a healthy heart.

Here's the recipe:

Thai Red Curry with Roasted Eggplant

  • Yield: 5 servings

Ingredients:

  • 5 tbsp. red curry paste
  • 1¼ cups unsweetened coconut milk
  • 3 tbsp. fresh lemongrass, halved, smashed
  • ½ tsp. lime zest
  • 1 tbsp. lime juice
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp. fish sauce
  • 2½ tsp. coconut cream
  • 2½ tsp. rice vinegar
  • 1¼ tsp. corn starch
  • 2½ tsp. cold water
  • ½ tsp. ginger puree
  • 1½ tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped

Roasted eggplant

  • 1 each medium eggplant, 1" diced
  • 3 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1¼ tbsp. olive oil

Preparation

  1. In a sauté pan over medium heat, toast the red curry paste until fragrant.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients to the pan from the first grouping; bring to a simmer for 10 minutes, whisking occasionally. Remove the lemongrass.
  3. Whisk together the corn starch and cold water to create a slurry; whisk the slurry into the sauce and return to simmer.
  4. Add cilantro and ginger; whisk until incorporated.

Roasted eggplant

  1. Preheat an oven to 425F, toss the eggplant in the olive oil and salt.
  2. Roast for 30 to 35 minutes until golden brown and tender.

Plate assembly

Divide curry and eggplant equally between 5 servings.

For more information, go to www.intermountainhealthcare.org.

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