Nutting Up the Pumpkin Red Curry

Hot, sweet, & creamy.

I was exceedingly disappointed when a little storefront Thai place about a mile away from me closed – it was the only place I’d ever found pumpkin curry, and theirs was delicious. It was a red curry, good and hot, nicely thicker than average, and was chock full of onions, green beans and bell peppers. I improvised this recipe to fill the hole it left behind, so to speak.

To get that thicker, creamier quality, I both reduced the sauce down and added peanut butter, since I love the flavor of panang, and if memory serves I think they may even have used it. The Ume plum vinegar with its sodium content and savory umami quality is a decent vegan sub for Thai fish sauce in some instances, and here reduces the need for more soy sauce/tamari or acid. I did still add some lime for flavor, though. You can vary the proportion of chilis and coconut sugar, depending on how spicy and sweet you like it – the pumpkin and peppers are already somewhat sweet, so you may want a less sweet sauce.

Serves 3-4. You can start some rice while the pumpkin is roasting so it’s done at the same time as the curry. It’s so great when they finish together.

Ingredients

  • 1 small 2 lb-ish pumpkin (I wound up using 2/3-3/4 of it, or about 1 1/2 cups cubed, but without tofu you could probably use the whole thing), halved and seeded
  • 1 medium yellow onion, quartered and chopped in wedges
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped in roughly 1″ pieces
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped likewise
  • About 1 cup green beans after stemming and chopping them in half (1/4 lb will do it)
  • 1 T coconut or rice bran oil
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 T ginger root, grated or minced
  • 2 T natural peanut butter (no sugar added)
  • 2-3 T coconut sugar to taste (I used 2 1/2 this time)
  • 1 T Ume(boshi) plum vinegar
  • 1 T soy sauce or tamari
  • 2 T Thai red curry paste
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1-2 small Thai chilis or 1 serrano, diced thin
  • 1/4 cup Thai basil leaves, more for garnish if desired
  • Batch of Make-You-Like-It-Tofu (optional, for the tofu lovers)
  • Lime wedges for garnish (optional)
  • Chopped peanut for garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 and roast the pumpkin halves on a foil lined sheet for about 25 minutes or until tender enough that the peel comes off easily. If you’re baking tofu, they can share the oven, the tofu will just need a little more time to brown. Peel and cube the pumpkin when sufficiently cooled to yield about 1 1/2-2 cups’ worth of 1″ cubes. (Any unused roasted pumpkin can be saved to puree and add to soup, pasta sauces, or pudding.)

In a small saucepan saute 1 clove of the minced garlic and the ginger in 1/2 of the T of coconut oil with a little water for a couple of minutes. Add the coconut milk, and then whisk in the soy or tamari, lime, curry paste, and peanut butter and the coconut sugar to taste for desired sweetness. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to reduce and thicken the mix. There’s no need to add any thickeners if you reduce it for 15 minutes or so.

In a large saucepan or dutch oven saute the onion in the other 1/2 T oil and a T or two of water until translucent, then add the other half of the garlic and stir for a couple of minutes to cook it and release the aroma. Add the bell peppers, green beans, and pumpkin, pour in the hot curry mixture, and stir to coat everything. Cover and let steam cook on low for about five minutes, then stir in the chilis, basil, and cooked tofu. Cook for about five minutes more or until the peppers and beans are pleasantly al dente.

Serve over (brown) rice with basil garnish, a dusting of chopped peanut and lime wedges.

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