We’re not jetting off to anywhere warm and sunny, but we can still eat that way. This gloriously pigmented dish is surprisingly simple to put together, and does feel like a ray of sunshine on yet another gray day.
The color comes from both the squash and the curry paste.
Kabocha squash, which is often speckled green on the outside, has orange or yellow flesh that can vary in texture. I have made this dish and had the squash disintegrate into a thick, rich base, like a creamy bisque — and also used it where it keeps its shape. Sometimes, when the Kitchen Goddess is with me, the squash does a little of both. The surprise result makes the preparation a fun game with a surprise result — especially because no matter what, the outcome will taste equally luscious.
The curry flavor of the dish is quite mild, but can be pumped up with additional Thai red curry paste. You can also dial up the heat by adding a pinch of cayenne along with the honey. The curry paste, like the fish sauce, is available in most grocery stores in the Asian foods section. Both keep well in the refrigerator for months after opening. By then, we can hope for more sunshine from the sky, and not just on our plates.
Kabocha and Chickpea Coconut Curry
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 medium onion, chopped (1 cup)
1 red bell pepper, cut in ½-inch dice
1 (3 ½ -pound) kabocha squash, peeled and cut in 1-inch chunks (about 7 cups)
2 cups coconut water
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon Thai red curry paste (or more, to taste)
2 teaspoons honey
½ teaspoon salt
1 head cauliflower, cut in bite-size florets
1 15-ounce can no salt chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 13.66-ounce can coconut milk
1/2 cup salted, roasted cashews
1. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium high; add the ginger, onion and red pepper and cook, stirring, until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Add the kabocha, coconut water, lime juice, fish sauce, curry paste, honey and salt; bring to a boil and immediately reduce to a gentle simmer, cover and cook until squash is just barely fork tender, about 15-16 minutes.
2. Add the cauliflower and chickpeas; cover and cook until cauliflower is crisp-tender and squash is cooked through, about 11-12 minutes. Dissolve the cornstarch in 1 tablespoon of the coconut milk; add it and the remaining coconut milk to the pot; bring to a boil and cook 1-2 minutes, until sauce is somewhat thickened. Sprinkle with the cashews and serve.