Admittedly, I tend to sort of buy whatever I want at the grocery store. It's so tempting to grab a wedge of creamy blue cheese, some fancy Spanish crackers sprinkled with sugar and anise seeds, or a grass-fed steak to grill. These luxuries are nice, certainly, but they don't determine whether I am able to put together a good meal or not. Being frugal has caused me to be inventive, resourceful, and to not overlook everything I already have in the freezer, fridge and pantry.
Feeling like contestants on Top Chef, we have been knocking out meals all week that solely use ingredients we already had on hand. The Chef threw together a delicious pork, mushroom and potato stew that we served over brown rice. He made his famous Salty Butterscotch Pudding for dessert (a future blog post, I promise). And I whipped up this delicious curry that is a definite keeper. I had a similar curry at a restaurant recently and tried to recreate those flavors here.
One thing to be aware of - curry powders can vary like crazy. I used a sweet curry powder and started with 1 tablespoon. I kept adding more, eventually ending up using 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons.
For 4-6 servings:
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 4 cups cubed butternut squash
- 1-15 ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1 can light coconut milk
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup brown lentils, rinsed and picked over
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons curry powder (or, to taste)
- 4 ounces frozen chopped spinach
Heat the oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the squash and stir to coat with the oil, cooking for about 3 minutes. Raise the heat to medium-high. Add the tomatoes, coconut milk, water, lentils, salt, red pepper flakes, and 1-2 tablespoons of the curry powder.
Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes. The curry should be thick. Taste it and add more salt and curry powder if needed. Stir in the spinach and simmer the curry for about 10 minutes more. Serve with warm whole wheat pita bread.
This curry freezes well. Once cool, ladle the curry into a freezer bag, carefully pressing out any air, and store in the freezer.