One of my favorite things about fall is the variety of squashes. Although they’re called winter squashes, because (sometimes) they can be stored through the winter, we start seeing them as soon as the end of summer. But it’s fall when most people start to think about squash. And with cooler days, I’ve happily incorporated them back into my cooking.
Only a few of the winter squashes are widely popular, such as butternut and acorn, and of course, pumpkin. That’s right, pumpkin is a type of winter squash. I think people forget that.
Many have also tried a spaghetti squash recipe or two and have enjoyed its pasta-like texture. Yet, there are several other varieties available, especially when you visit a farmers market or food co-op that tend to have more unique options than a supermarket.
I particularly like the blue hubbard squash. Yeah, it’s partly because it’s blue and I love all things blue, but it’s also just a ridiculous squash. They’re often absurdly large and have a warty-looking texture. They don’t look like something natural and yet — they are. I grew them once in my garden and had squash for months. They’re known for keeping especially well.
Looking to try something different, I picked up a red kuri squash a few weeks ago at the farmers market. I only just got around to using it this week and it was still perfectly good. That’s why I keep a squash or two around at all times in fall and winter, since I don’t have to worry about them going bad, and a squash can be the highlight of all kinds of meals, such as this simple bowl of curry.
Red kuri squash is technically in the same family as the blue hubbard, though they tend to be a more manageable size. They’re bright orange in color, like a pumpkin, but are not as round. What I found out with this curry recipe is that the flesh of the red kuri can become amazingly creamy and tender after simmering. It has a nutty flavor as well, which pairs well with the coconut and spices in the dish.
Speaking of spices, I like my curry to have flavor. I don’t necessarily look for heat, which I think people always assume about curry. That depends on the type of curry powder you use. There are definitely some spicy ones out there, but there are plenty of mild ones as well. The curry powder I typically use, since spiciness isn’t enjoyed by my significant other, is actually labeled sweet. I like the one from Penzey’s, which includes a mix of turmeric, cumin, coriander, nutmeg, cardamom, cinnamon, fennel, ginger and a few other spices.
If you’re not sure about the intensity of your curry powder, start with just a tablespoon instead of the two I suggest, and then add more to your liking from there. Everything about this recipe is adaptable, including the type of rice, type of squash and type of greens. Though you will have to adjust cooking times depending on your ingredients.
Despite almost everything I read claiming that the skin of the red kuri squash is edible, I did not find that to be the case, at least with how it is prepared in this dish. Yeah, peeling a squash like this is a pain, so that’s why as I cut up the squash I also slice off the skin instead of bothering with a peeler. Trust me, you don’t want to be spitting out pieces of squash skin as you eat the curry. I did that and luckily the dish was so good I didn’t care.
RED KURI CURRY
1 1/2 cups jasmine rice
3 cloves garlic
2-inch piece of fresh ginger
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 pounds red kuri squash, peeled and cubed
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 can full-fat coconut milk
a small bunch of Swiss chard
1 teaspoon kosher salt
toasted pumpkin seeds, to garnish
Cover the rice with 2 1/4 cups water in a small pan. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and allow to gently cook, covered, for 15-20 minutes while you prepare the curry. Start checking after 12 minutes and turn off the heat when the rice is fully cooked but not mushy.
Heat a large pan over medium-low heat while you roughly chop the onion. Add the coconut oil to the pan and when hot, distribute the onion across the pan. Cook about 8 minutes, checking and moving the onion around a couple of times with a spoon.
While the onion cooks, peel and mince the garlic and ginger. You’ll want about two tablespoons of minced ginger, so if there’s extra, save it for another use. Add the garlic and ginger to the pan when the onion has started to turn soft and translucent, then cook two more minutes.
Now add the squash, curry powder and coconut milk and stir to combine. Fill the empty coconut milk can about 3/4 of the way full with water and pour this into the pan as well. Bring everything to a simmer and cook about 30 minutes or until the squash is tender.
Roughly tear the Swiss chard leaves and remove any tough stems. When the squash is cooked, stir in the chard and salt and cook until wilted. Taste and add more salt, if needed.
Fluff the rice with a fork, distribute it among plates and top with the squash curry. Serve with the pumpkin seeds