Holiday weekend in the offing. Sweet tooth raging off the charts. Winter chill demanding comfort and warmth, for the body and for the taste buds. And all I can think of is… squash?
Not to belittle the autumnal veg d’jour, but it never had a presence in my home, in my mama’s home, or in any of my friends’ home while I was around at least. I refer to the butternut squash, the flamboyantly orange veg that screams “I JUST DARE YOU TO EAT ME!” to those waylaid wayfarers as yet unexposed to its rich and moist interior. Perhaps a tad overdramatic, but I was always a little confuddled by it, until at some point in the past few years I actually sat down and sampled a bit… in ravioli form… in salad form… in mushy delectable form… (not in soup form just yet, but soon enough). And when I found it on sale at the grocery store, my heart leapt at the chance and my fingers scrambled with the words Why not? dribbling down their wiggly tips.
So then what? I have tried some delicious roasted squash dishes with all sorts of savory or sweet spices, but is that what I wanted? Would I be satisfied with going down this predictable and safe route, into experienced flavor combinations and familiar textures? Or shall I venture cautiously into the unknown, whisking away the shroud that cloaks the entrance to a dusty forgotten corridor, armed only with a mixing spoon and a toolbelt of spices, ready to lay any enemy to waste with a generous dash of pepper or a whole handful of cumin right in the face!!?!?! Of course I will take that challenge, because I’ve decided today I shall raise the stakes, up the ante, and take my culinary pursuits to a new level!
Hah. Overdramatic you might say. You might even be right. Extremely right. But never did that stop me before, and I wouldn’t let your exasperated sighs stop me now! And thus, with a flourish of my spatula I invite you to journey with me to the land of Butternut Squash and Green Bean Coconut Curry!
Butternut Squash and Green Bean Coconut Curry
- 1 Butternut squash, peeled and diced (seeds removed etc)
- 8 oz or so of green beans
- Ground black pepper
- Chili flakes
- 1 clove garlic, crushed (roughly 1 tsp on garlic paste)
- Lots o’ Water
- Olive oil
- 1 can Light Coconut Milk
- Dash of turmeric
- More salt
- Cayenne powder
- Cumin powder
- Brown sugar
- ½ red onion, sliced
- 1 jalapeno, seeded and sliced
- 1 serrano chili, sliced
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- ½ tsp grated ginger
- Two cardamom pods
Yeah, I will say right now that I was experimenting off my nonexistent butt (no amount of squats will rectify that, btw). So I have very little awareness as to what amount of spices I used, especially because I constantly add little bits here and there to adjust the flavor, which I believe any fantabulous cook should do, in order to achieve that capricious freefloating sprite that is the everchanging taste palette.
Anyway, so I boiled the squash and green beans separately in water, about 10 minutes for the squash, and less for the beans. Drained and combined them into a bowl, after which I seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic, and chili flakes.
In a pot I poured about a tablespoon of oil, a teaspoon of salt, and the whole can of coconut milk and cooked it at low-medium heat, making sure not to bring it to a boil but to simply keep it hot. I then threw in a bunch of spices: dash of turmeric, 1 tsp cayenne powder, about 2 tsp cumin powder, cardamom, oh and a little sugar too! A bit less than a tablespoon of brown sugar. Added the veggies into that and stirred them carefully so as not to injure the delicate sensibilities of the squash. 🙂
In a frying pan, I heated about 2 tbsp oil, brought to medium heat, and added the onion and sliced chilis. Once they softened a bit, I added the mustard seeds, and the cumin seeds, letting it sputter a little bit and then lowering the heat all the way to low and covering the pan to let the onions melt and steam slowly without burning, all the while siphoning in the aromatic essence of the added spices.
Once that was cooked down to my liking, I added it into the curry, and for good measure tossed in a bit more chili powder, cumin, and then added the ginger. I personally think it has a bright cheerful taste, a splendid complement to the lightly masala’d rice we brought home from B’s house last night. But I have no clue yet what G will think, so I shall leave this a huge question mark until I can update you with his review.
And thus completes the curried trek I took with squash, which I must say is so soft and took in a lot of great flavor, but is not overly mushy or too weak that it breaks apart to the touch. I intend to bask in these textures tonight for dinner, that I for sure.
Ah yes, I should also add that I was not entirely overdramatizing my “new level” remarks from earlier, because: 1. I have never worked with squash, so this was a delightfully new experience, but also 2. I’m actually going to share this hitherto secret-lying by-the-sidelines-hidden-under-the-blanket-personal blog with my family members. Yes. I admit up until this point this was a clandestine operation, but we have to be daring and break out of our shells at some point, else we’d never have enjoyed nuts, for example. So… ugh, here we go. I hate the limelight. I do like limes though, however unrelated that may be.
It’s a good thing I’m off to New York tomorrow! No time to answer phone calls and deal with lighthearted teasing!