With the chilly weather, stews and curries are natural choices for the dinner table. For me, autumn squash is another fitting ingredient since it’s plentiful right now at the farmers market.
A squash I’m seeing a lot lately is the Japanese kabocha, which is like a little pumpkin but often in a forest green shell with ugly pock marks around the surface. My market, however, was selling an orange kabocha, which has a slighter sweeter flesh.
This curry dish was also my chance to try to eat healthier to make up for my recent donut obsession. So I loaded it with healthy green lentils and tofu. It turned out to be a hearty (and spicy because of the Panang curry paste I use) dish. Enjoy!
Kabocha Curry with Green Lentils and Tofu Recipe
Makes 4 to 5 servings
1 kabocha squash (about 2 lbs.), skin removed, seeded, and cut into chunks
1 small red onion, diced
1/2 cup green lentils, rinsed and cleaned
1 package firm tofu, cubed
1 1/2 T Panang curry paste (2 T for more heat)
1 cup coconut milk
1 T Thai basil or regular basil, thinly sliced
1 t grated fresh ginger
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
2 T vegetable or Canola oil
1 T fish sauce
In a pot or large saucepan, warm oil over medium heat and add onion. Saute onion until translucent and soft, about 3 to 4 minutes. Then add Panang curry paste and break into pieces and cook the paste until you can smell the curry fragrance, or for about a minute. Then add coconut milk and stir to blend the curry paste and dissolve it.
Add broth and bring to a boil, then add squash chunks and ginger. Reduce heat to simmer to cook squash. Add lentils about five minutes later. Continue cooking until the squash is fork tender and lentils soft, about 20 minutes (depending how big you cut the squash chunks, squash should be soft but not fall apart like mashed potatoes).
When squash is almost cooked, add the tofu and basil leaves and blend in. Season to taste with fish sauce and cook for another minute before removing from heat and serving in bowls with steamed rice.
TIP: To clean the lentils and help it cook faster, you can soak them overnight. Clean the water and rinse lentils, picking out any dirty bits, right before you cook them.
Panang shopping: The key to this curry is using a good paste. At my Asian grocery store, I like to buy the Thai brand Mae Ploy, which can be spicy if you use a lot of it. It’s sold as a paste and not a powder.
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