By Angela Denstad Stigeler
Everyone loves a little luxury at the table, and this time of year it tends to come in the form of butter. While good creamery butter is an indispensable flavor of the holidays, if you’re looking for a little surprise, try taking one of your classic side dishes for a flavor detour.
Winter squash is a vegetable that travels well and can carry a lot of flavor. Here I use a mild curry spice and bathe diced squash in rich, creamy coconut milk. Not only is it a pleasant change to occasionally see squash looking something other than squished, it’s also fun to play with the flavors and the cooking method. There’s no need to roast the squash, which cuts your cooking time down from an hour to about 20 minutes on the stove. That’s also useful if you’re planning to serve this as a Thanksgiving Day side dish and oven space is at a premium. If you’re hesitant to step this far from tradition on turkey day, turn this curry into a full meal any other day of the season. Served over rice or another simple grain, it’s a very posh way to enjoy your squash.
Coconut Curried Squash
1 tablespoon peanut or vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root
½ a large red onion cut in wedges
1 dried red pepper, left whole
2 teaspoons yellow curry powder
1 15-ounce can of thick (full fat) Thai coconut milk
1 tablespoon raw cane sugar or brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
6 cups peeled and cubed kabocha or butternut squash
lime wedges and fresh cilantro for garnish
In a large sauté pan with a lid, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, ginger, onion and the dried pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the curry powder and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, another 30 seconds or so. Add the coconut milk and stir, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the sugar and salt. Add the squash and stir to coat it evenly. Place the lid on the pan and allow the squash to cook, covered, until just tender but not mushy, 10-15 minutes, adjusting the heat to low if necessary.
Sprinkle a little fresh lime juice over the curry and season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve warm as a side dish or over rice as a main course.