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Ginger Coconut Anything

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I don't know about you but I am a busy person. Many hours of my day are already accounted for, which means that any shortcuts I can take to produce a delicious meal are welcome. How many of us have come home from a long day at work and stared vacantly into the fridge or the pantry, willing some amazing meal to materialize in front of our hungry eyes? I certainly have, even going so far as to imagine a Genie jumping out of an olive oil bottle and getting to work. That has yet to happen in my home. But I do know that I have a sauce in my cooking arsenal that can help me get dinner on the table with little effort and in minimal time.

My little secret sauce doesn't take long to make, and can be frozen in pint containers for that week-night rush job. I call it 'Ginger Coconut Anything' because once you have a little of that simmering on the stove, absolutely anything you might add to it will taste fabulous. And it's easy.

Here's what you do (and whenever I make it I double or triple the recipe so I have plenty to freeze):

Cook 1 chopped onion, 2 TBSP of coarsely chopped ginger and a pinch of salt in about a TBSP of oil until softened, which should take about 5 minutes. Add in a 14oz can of tomatoes and cook, stirring, until the tomatoes have broken down a little. Add in a 13oz can of coconut milk and heat. Transfer to a blender and puree. That's it!

If you want a little more heat, add some curry powder to the onion/ginger mix. If you want it to taste a little more mysterious, hit it with a little coriander and cardamom at that same stage.

Now you have a flavorful and aromatic sauce that can be married with proteins or vegetables. Heat the sauce and toss in some veggies of your choice for a lighter version; Brown some chicken breasts cut into strips and simmer them in the sauce. Or reduce it to a thicker consistency and add in the protein of your choice for a more Indonesian style 'dry' dish. Whatever you choose to add, it will certainly make you smile with contentment.

I like add about a TBSP of lemon juice and about a TBSP of chopped cilantro in the last 5 minutes of cooking, and serve it garnished with cilantro and, if I'm feeling ambitious, a little toasted coconut. But you don't need to do any of that if you prefer not to. It's so delicious it will stand on its own.

Last night, I poached some chicken thighs in this lovely, versatile base (avoiding the messy frying stage) and wilted in baby spinach for some color and nutrition. There were, sadly, no leftovers, but as you can guess, I have another pint waiting in my freezer for the next time!

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