It has been FAR too long since a curry appeared on this blog, and with all the rain we’ve been getting over the past week, the cozy thought of a warm, grounding curry full of vibrant spices and loaded with intense flavour has been on my mind, ALL the time.
I’ll preface this by saying that this was supposed to be a tempeh curry. Tempeh is one of my favourite plant-based protein sources because it’s high in protein, fibre, and it’s a fermented food so it offers digestive benefits too. When I moved to Vancouver, I knew I’d be in my element, right in the middle of a healthy foodie’s mecca. I strategically picked my apartment’s location to be within easy walking distance of work and some fantastic running routes, and only a few minutes from 3 grocery stores including Whole Foods. Perfect, right? But as I started exploring and creating recipes in my new kitchen I encountered a problem.
Back in Waterloo, I’d always buy Henry’s Tempeh, which is made very nearby in Kitchener, Ontario. They’ve got 5 flavours including plain, which was the one I bought most often because it was incredibly versatile – I could put it in Asian-inspired dishes just as easily as Italian ones and it would just take on the flavours of the rest of the dish. This tempeh was so good in fact, that I’d often just slice it into strips and snack on it. If you’ve tasted average tempeh before this might sound absolutely crazy, but Henry’s truly is delicious. And I miss it terribly. ?
Since arriving here in March I’ve looked high and low, and the only tempeh brand to be found for a while was Tofurky. There was a BBQ-marinated flavour, but no plain. BBQ just wasn’t going to work in an Asian-inspired curry!
Then one Saturday, I finally stumbled across a package of tempeh at Whole Foods in the freezer section. I was ecstatic. Into the shopping basket it went, and upon arriving home I set it out on the counter with all of my other curry ingredients. I decided to slice off a wee strip just to see how it compared when totally plain to the Henry’s tempeh I used to buy in Ontario.
The bite was in my mouth for about 5 seconds and it came right back out again.
NOT a fan.
Not wanting to give up on my recipe and reeeeeallllly eager to make a curry with kabocha squash (my second fave next to butternut), I brainstormed alternatives.
The final decision was lentils because they’re 1) tasty, 2) high in plant-based protein, 3) also high in iron, and 4) much faster to cook than the dried chickpeas and other beans that were sitting in my pantry.
Once the protein source was sorted out, it was time to address the liquid that all of the ingredients of my lovely curry would be swimming in. I envisioned a nice smooth, slightly creamy consistency. Coconut milk was the plan, but to can or to carton? That was the question.
I know a lot of people swear by canned and only canned, full-fat and never light. However in this case, I figured the lentils combined with the squash were already going to be very hearty and satisfying. To avoid making the dish too heavy, I opted for the carton and used unsweetened coconut milk from So Delicious. And you know what?
It created a creamy consistency for this Lentil and Kabocha Squash Curry that was juuuuuust right.
Lentil and Kabocha Squash Curry
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
Ingredients (2 servings, 2.5 cups each)
- 2 tsp coconut oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
- 2 1/2 cups chopped peeled kabocha squash
- 1 tbsp minced or grated fresh ginger
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 2 tbsp red curry paste
- 1 3/4 cups unsweetened coconut milk (carton, not can. I recommend using 2 cups if you want the dish to be more saucy)
- 1 cup sliced snap peas
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 1 cup cooked lentils
- cilantro, to garnish
In a large pan, or in a pot, heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat until it melts. Add the garlic and onion, stirring occasionally for 4 minutes or until the onions begin to soften and become translucent.
Add the squash, ginger, cumin, turmeric and curry paste. Reduce heat to medium and stir the squash around, trying to coat it in the spices.
Add the coconut milk and let the curry cook for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, chop the snap peas and peppers.
Toss the snap peas and peppers into the pan, stirring to coat. The liquid should be reduced by about half and the squash should be fork-tender.
Continue cooking for another 5 minutes until all vegetables are soft. Transfer into bowls and garnish with cilantro.
So tell me…
- What brand of tempeh do you buy? Particularly if you’re a Vancouver-area reader I’d love to hear about any you guys love. My search is still on!
- Of all the winter squashes (butternut, kabocha, acorn, buttercup, spaghetti etc), which one is your favourite?