Butternut Squash Curry

It’s been a truly dreary, rainy week here in Pittsburgh, and I’ve found myself craving hearty, filling food. I made this recipe combining two of the most craveable fall favorites; curry, and squash. Although this curry is far from a one pot meal, it is relatively easy to make. All you need is some curry paste, coconut milk, fresh produce, and an empty stomach. It is unbelievably filling. I don’t know how I ate as much as I did, or whether I should feel impressed with myself or ashamed. That being said, this curry makes a lot of servings that you can set aside and freeze for the next time you’re craving it on a rainy day.

While you can make your own curry paste we used a store bought one for this recipe. Just be sure to check the label. Some curry pastes contain fish sauce, so it’s worth a quick once over. You can top your curry with anything you want, but I happened across these adorable little beech mushrooms at the food co-op and knew that I had to use them. They honestly ended up being one of my favorite parts of the curry. Trust me, that’s saying a lot, because I loved every part of the curry. The beech mushrooms just ended up being little salty flavor bombs, almost akin to bacon. It cut through the sweet, spicy, and fatty flavors of the curry giving it an additional dimension that was just perfect. I highly recommend using the beech mushrooms, or any kind of small mushrooms that you can find to marinate as directed in the recipe.

We served our curry bowls with noodles as a base, but it’s also good with rice. Though I’m sure it’s far from traditional you could try it with other grains like farro, or quinoa if you wanted. Even serving it alone without any grains should be fine. It’s super dense and starchy with both the squash and the Japanese sweet potato.


Butternut Squash Curry

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: intermediate
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Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp vegan red curry paste
  • 1 cup butternut squash puree
  • 17 oz coconut milk (two standard sized cans)
  • 1 Japanese sweet potato
  • 8 oz KaMe Ramen Noodles (you can sub any vegan noodles, or rice)
  • 2 jalapeños, cut into rings
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon grass, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp green onion/scallion, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1 block extra firm tofu
  • 3 limes
  • 4oz beech mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp tamari
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp liquid smoke
  • pinch of white pepper
  • 6 tbsp sesame oil

Directions

  1. Clean and prepare all produce items. Peel and cube sweet potatoes, cut jalapeños into rings, grate ginger, mince garlic, finely chop lemon grass and scallions, and cut tofu into pieces. We cut them into large triangles for aesthetic, but you can cut them however you’d like. If you have a whole butternut squash you’ll need to peel it, cut it down, de-seed it, and boil it for about 30 minutes before adding it to a food processor to puree it. It sounds like a lot of work, but you get a lot of additional squash to freeze and use for other recipes. If you don’t want to do all of that you can purchase squash puree.
  2. In a large stock pot add a few tablespoons of sesame oil. Once the oil is hot add garlic, lemongrass, ginger, scallions, and some of the jalapeño rings. Set aside a few rings for garnish.
  3. Add 2 tbsp of the curry paste to the pot to toast it, and then add in the butternut squash puree. Stir the two until they are well integrated.
  4. Add the juice of one lime, followed by the coconut milk.
  5. Put the sweet potato cubes in the pot, so they have plenty of time to cook until they are fork tender. Bring curry to a simmer for at least an hour. Stir often.
  6. In a small mixing bowl add beech mushrooms, the juice of one lime, maple syrup, tamari, liquid smoke, and a pinch of white pepper. Stir to combine. Cook down in a separate pan with some sesame oil. Make sure they are cooked thoroughly, and then set aside. Beech mushrooms can be very bitter if they are not cooked completely.
  7. In a separate pan fry up tofu in sesame oil until it is a nice golden brown on both sides. Set aside.
  8. Bring water to a boil in a separate pot, and cook noodles, or rice, according to package instructions. If you are cooking noodles be sure to run them under cold water after they become al dente, so that they don’t over cook. In this recipe we use the noodles or rice as a bed for the curry. The curry should be hot enough after more than an hour of simmering to heat them back up.
  9. While you’re waiting for your curry to finish simmering cut down the limes into wedges for garnish, and to squeeze directly on top of the curry bowl.
  10. After about 90 minutes of simmering check your potatoes to see if they are fork tender. They should be very soft at this point. If they are done remove the curry from heat, and serve.
  11. To serve add noodles or rice to a bowl, top with curry followed by tofu, beech mushrooms, jalapeños, and some green onion. Add a squirt of lime juice to the bowl for added flavor.

Vegan Pad Thai

I love Thai food. There’s a wonderful Thai restaurant called Thai Gourmet a few minutes from our house. If you live in Pittsburgh I’d highly recommend trying them. It’s probably where we get 95% or more of our takeout meals from when we order in. They’re really great about making most of the menu items vegan if you ask. I’ve liked everything I’ve ordered from their menu, but one of my favorites will always be Pad Thai. With its perfect balance of flavors it’s popular for a reason. My version of Pad Thai might not be super authentic, or do a great homage to Thai Gourmet’s, but it’s still pretty tasty.

The biggest reason I developed a Pad Thai recipe is because Nick has a peanut allergy, and I wanted him to be able to experience the flavors of one of my favorite dishes. I use almonds for this recipe, but feel free to keep it more traditional and use peanuts. I’ve also subbed rice wine vinegar in place of tamarind paste, because I know it can be difficult to find if you don’t live near an Asian market. I like to make my recipes easy and attainable for everyone. If you are lucky enough to live close to a store that sells tamarind paste feel free to use it instead. You might need to tweak some of the other ingredients to get the right flavor, but it should be a pretty easy substitution.

We used Just Egg in this recipe to add a great textural element commonly found in the dish. It was nice to have a Pad Thai with fried egg in it, since I haven’t had egg from an actual chicken in going on three years now. Pad Thai is still great without the egg, but it’s nice to have the additional texture. Thai Gourmet does a great job of cooking longer strips of tofu which really satisfy my craving for the eggy texture without ordering the dish with fried egg. If you can’t find Just Egg, or don’t like it the recipe is fine without the egg. I find the egg to be a great addition that helps appease your friends and family members that still choose to be carnivores.

When it comes to the bean sprouts I’d advise skipping them, or thoroughly cooking them if you’re immunocompromised, or serving this dish to someone in an at risk group like an elderly family member, or kid. Sprouts are delicious and nutritious, but are identified as a food with a heightened risk of carrying food borne illness. If you’re not an at risk member of society sprouts are great, and a pretty necessary element of this dish. Just make sure you wash them thoroughly before consuming. If you’re unable to find fresh sprouts at your local grocery store there are usually canned sprouts in the international section.

Vegan Pad Thai

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: intermediate
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Ingredients

  • 1 block of tofu, we used the Nasoya extra firm pre-pressed
  • 10.5 oz Ka Me Express Pad Thai Noodles
  • 1 cup of almonds or peanuts, chopped finely
  • 1/2 cup bean sprouts
  • 1/3 cup Just Egg
  • 1/4 cup julienned carrots
  • 1/4 cup water with one cube of No Chick’n Bullion, or other vegetable stock
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 limes
  • 1 bunch of green onions, chopped
  • 4 tbsp tamari
  • 4 tbsp coconut brown sugar, or other vegan brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 tbsp white miso paste
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp almond butter
  • 1 tsp chili garlic paste
  • a pinch of ground white pepper
  • a pinch of red chili flake to taste

Directions

  1. Start by prepping all of your ingredients. Chop the almonds or peanuts finely, and set aside in a bowl. Slice and juice one of the limes into a separate bowl. Quarter the other lime/s into wedges. You can prep as many limes as you want, but you’ll need at least two of them for the four servings this recipe makes. Mince the garlic, and chop your green onions. We chopped the white part of the onions finer, and left the green stems of the onions bigger chunks to add texture.
  2. Prepare the sauce in a large mixing bowl. Microwave 1/4 cup water with the bullion. I use a glass measuring cup to microwave it in. You can add the miso to the water as well to help it melt. Whisk together thoroughly, and add miso and bullion water to the large mixing bowl.
  3. While the water is still hot, whisk in the coconut brown sugar to help it melt. Add lime juice, chili garlic paste, almond butter, hoisin, and tamari. Whisk together to fully integrate the ingredients.
  4. Cut tofu into small squares. In a large skillet or a wok heat sesame oil, and fry the cubed tofu. Set aside in a bowl or on a plate. I like to line a plate with a paper towel to catch the extra grease.
  5. Fry up the Just Egg according to the instructions on the bottle. Scramble it into small, bite sized pieces. Set aside with the tofu.
  6. Heat more sesame oil up in the large wok or skillet. Toast up red pepper flakes (optional) to reach whatever level of heat you desire, minced garlic, and some of the green onion. Once the ingredients become very aromatic add the sauce to the pan.
  7. Whisk the sauce periodically as you heat it. It should start simmering at the sides, and becoming thicker in consistency. Add in julienned carrots and green onion to taste. Once it has thickened up a bit add the Pad Thai noodles. You can buy Pad Thai noodles that aren’t already cooked, and cook them before starting to prepare the dish, and set them aside. Rice noodles can be tricky, and if you’re a beginner at cooking I’d recommend buying the precooked Ka Me noodles. The noodles come in two packs. Use both packs.
  8. Using tongs ensure the noodles are saturated with sauce, and then add in half of your bean sprouts. Add in some of the crushed/chopped nuts, more green onion, tofu, and Just Egg. Taste the dish to see if the spice level is what you’d like. If you want it hotter add more chili flakes.
  9. Cook for two minutes periodically turning ingredients with tongs to ensure saturation. Sauce should be nicely adhered to all of the ingredients, and not sitting in a puddle in the bottom of the wok/skillet. Remove from heat when complete.
  10. Plate with additional bean sprouts, chopped nuts, and lime wedge. Enjoy.