Citrusy, spicy Easy Squash Curry is a perfect midweek meal. This meal is pure, Thai-inspired vegan comfort food!
Are you committing to Veganuary?
Now that we're past the hedonism of the holidays, many folks with willpower greater than mine are pledging to participate in Veganuary.
This means following a vegan lifestyle at least for January (in hopes, of course, that some will decide to go vegan for good).
With that in mind, I am devoting my January schedule to vegan recipes. I hope you'll find some inspiration here!
What is in Squash Curry?
I absolutely adored the squash curry at my favorite local Thai food restaurant, so I resolved to create my own version.
About the squash
I used acorn squash for this recipe, though butternut would also work well. I settled on acorn squash because the skin is edible if it's rubbed with olive oil and sufficiently roasted.
However, if you're following the quick-and-easy route of microwaving the squash, the skin will still have some chew that you might find objectionable. So, I'd suggest scooping the meat out of the skin.
If you do microwave the squash, make sure to stab it several times first. 6–7 minutes is usually a safe amount of time, but listen carefully for squealing sounds. These mean that a squash explosion is imminent!
If you hear this, don't panic. Simply turn off your microwave (but don't open the door). When the squealing sounds subside, check the squash for tenderness. You want to be able to easily cut the squash in half and scrape the meat out of the skin.
I like to prep the rest of my ingredients while the squash cooks.
About the curry sauce
Because squash curry is meant to be a quick meal for busy weeknights, I use my favorite store-bought vegan green curry paste. You can, of course, make your own, like this curry paste from The Roasted Root.
The bulk of the sauce is a shaken can of coconut milk.
Although the curry paste contains these ingredients already, I like to build in even more citrus flavor by adding chopped lemongrass and a fine chiffonade of kaffir (lime) leaves.
Most Asian groceries will carry both lemongrass and kaffir leaves. If you can't find kaffir leaves, use the zest of one lime instead.
Lemongrass is sometimes available as a paste in a tube: use one tablespoon in place of the chopped lemongrass.
Vegetables and legumes
I use chopped white or yellow onion and sliced carrots as my vegetable base. To bulk up the curry, I also sometimes include chopped cauliflower. For even more bulk, protein, and other health superpowers, I add a drained can of chickpeas.
You can microwave the squash and prep the vegetables in advance! Store in refrigerated containers for up to a day. For simplicity, refrigerate ingredients that are added simultaneously (like the carrots + onion or the ginger + garlic + lemongrass) in the same airtight container.
How to make squash curry
Start out by sauteing the onion and carrot in a wok with peanut (or vegetable) oil over medium-high heat until they're beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, lemongrass, and ginger. Continue to saute for 1 minute.
Next, scoop the vegetables to the sides of the pan and add the curry paste. Let the paste fry gently until it becomes aromatic (about 1 minute), then add the coconut milk. Stir in the garbanzo beans, cubed squash, and kaffir leaves. Simmer gently, covered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
When the squash curry has simmered for about 20 minutes, I add sliced scallions, chopped cilantro, and thinly sliced jalapeño. Obviously, if you hate cilantro, leave it out! The curry is wonderful served with basmati rice, garnished with lime wedges and a sprig of Thai basil (squeeze the lime juice and tear the basil over your easy squash curry right before you eat).
And that's it! Make the rice while your curry simmers (or use the life-altering microwavable kind), and your squash curry dinner will be ready to serve in under 45 minutes. If you use my work-ahead strategy, it's done in under 30!
I hope that you all have a happy, healthy, and productive New Year. If you're tackling Veganuary, I wish you the best of luck in sticking to your commitment!
P.S. Pro tip: this meal comes mostly from pantry items. Yes, even the squash: these last for so long that I keep them in my pantry with the onions and potatoes. For more pantry meals, check out Easy Pantry Meals – Living Out of Your Pantry (and refrigerator and freezer).
- 1 acorn squash (butternut will also work)
- 1 tablespoon peanut oil (or use any mild-tasting vegetable oil; see Recipe Note #1)
- 2 cups white or yellow onion, chopped
- 1 cup baby carrots, sliced about ¼ inch thick
- 2 tablespoon ginger, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoon garlic, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoon lemongrass, chopped (tender inner portion only; see Recipe Note #2)
- 3 kaffir leaves, center stem removed, sliced into fine chiffonade (lime leaves; see Recipe Note #3)
- ¼ cup green curry paste (see Recipe Note #4)
- 13.5 oz coconut milk (canned), shaken
- 15 oz garbanzo beans (canned), drained
- cilantro (a.k.a. coriander, use fresh) chopped; include some chopped stems as well!
- scallions, thinly sliced
- jalapeños, seeded and thinly sliced
- Thai basil (leave whole and tear over the curry immediately before eating)
- lime wedges
- Stab the acorn squash several times with a paring knife and microwave 6–7 minutes until tender enough to cut and chop (stop microwaving if you hear squealing sounds). Scoop the seeds and stringy "guts" out of the squash and discard. Then, scoop the squash flesh out of the skin. Chop into bite-size pieces.
- Saute the onion and carrot in a wok with peanut (or vegetable) oil over medium-high heat until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, lemongrass, and ginger; continue to saute for 1 minute.
- Scoop the vegetables to the sides of the wok and add the curry paste. Let fry gently until aromatic, about 1 minute, then add the coconut milk. Stir in the garbanzo beans, cubed squash, and kaffir leaves. Simmer gently, covered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Sprinkle coriander, scallions, and jalapeños (if using) over the top of the curry. Serve with basmati (or your favorite) rice, garnished with lime wedges and a sprig of Thai basil.
- NOTE: I have already significantly reduced the amount of oil used in this recipe. However, If you are cooking oil-free, use ¼ cup of vegetable broth in place of the oil. Add water as needed, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the vegetables have softened.
- If you can't find lemongrass, look for lemongrass paste in your grocery or order it here.
- If you're sensitive to spicy foods, use half this amount of curry paste and adjust according to your personal preference. Use a vegan-friendly, gluten-free curry paste.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1 bowl, about 2 cups
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 600Total Fat: 29gSaturated Fat: 20gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 8mgSodium: 908mgCarbohydrates: 71gFiber: 14gSugar: 22gProtein: 23g
Nutrition data provided here is only an estimate: if you are tracking this information for medical purposes, please consult a trusted external source. Thanks!