Thursday, May 26, 2011

Kidney Bean and Butternut Squash Curry

I had been away for several days, and those I left at home had eaten up pretty much all the fresh vegetables (except, of course, for the Bathtub Garden's bounty, which just keeps on coming), so this was going to be one of those times when you just have to use what's there.

I did have a small butternut squash, an onion that was close to the end of its days, and a bunch of fairly fresh scallions (and a handful of basil, from the bathtub garden). I always keep plenty of coconut milk, red, green, and panang Thai curry pastes, and at least three varieties of organic canned beans, among other things.

I was in the mood for something spicy. After looking over what I had to work with, I decided to make a curry with the butternut squash and a big can of red kidney beans. This wasn't a combination I had made before, and it's by no means any Thai dish I've ever heard of, but it tasted good in my head, so I figured it was a pretty safe bet.

I cut the onion and squash into roughly half-inch dice. I heated a couple tablespoons of coconut oil in a large pot and added the onion, stirring well. Once it was soft, I added the squash and stirred until the vegetables  began to dry out a bit. Then I added about three tablespoons of Thai red curry paste (I was actually out of panang--my favorite). At this point, I had to stir pretty furiously to keep everything from sticking as I got the paste well distributed. In went two cans of coconut milk. As soon as the mixture came to a boil, I turned the heat down to medium-low and let the squash cook until just tender (about 15 minutes). Then I added the can of kidney beans (drained) and turned the heat up to warm them through.

Just before serving, I sliced the scallions on a sharp diagonal and stirred them into the curry. I had wanted to use a big handful of fresh basil, but my wife had harvested all the big leaves for pesto the week before, so we only had a few smaller leaves available (you can't take them all, or it'll kill the plant--the vegan version of slaying the golden goose). So I just sliced the leaves I had, and instead of stirring them in, I used them as a garnish.

Oddly enough, in spite of the hefty amount of curry paste I used, it still wasn't very spicy. I'd been out of my homemade sriracha sauce for well over a week (see recipe at the bottom of this May 6th post), but there was a bit left in a store-bought bottle. I used this as an additional garnish, with more squirted in at will, as we ate. There was quite a bit left over, and I've reheated and enjoyed it twice since then--which if you know me, should tell you how tasty this thing turned out (I could have put it in a jar and given it away, you know).

It's always fun to see what you can make with just whatever you have lying around. Of course, it helps if you're in the habit of keeping a good supply of non-perishables, providing yourself with a broad range of creative material for your artist's palette. That's why I made such a point of spelling this out in the "Stocking the Vegan Pantry" section of Speed Vegan--it's just stacking the cards in favor of a good time, pure and simple. Having an amazing wife who can make things grow is a boon, too, and one not easily duplicated. Actually, truth be told, having my particular wife is freaking wonderful, period. Born under a lucky star, I was.

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