A Hearty Vegetarian Food Blog

Butternut Squash Red Curry

So in my line of work, which I don’t talk a lot about here because I want to keep my job, I have some interesting and occasionally high-profile opportunities. These include attending meetings at the annual United Nations General Assembly gathering in New York, where cabinet ministers from UN member nations and other international VIPs discuss very important global challenges and how to tackle them, and I eat snacks.

But before entering the venue to attend a meeting at the event a few weeks ago, I had to wait in line for security. When I finally reached the front of the line, the security guard began to painstakingly remove every. single. thing. from my purse. I can’t tell you the last time I did the same, so you CAN ONLY IMAGINE what kind of crap he was finding in there.

And there are probably a few things you can’t imagine. About 5 minutes into the removing things from my barely-small-enough-to-be-a-carry-on-size purse, he slowly pulled out the handle of…something.

Oh noooooooo.

It was a serrated knife. It had probably found its way into my bag after I attempted to make a sandwich on the go.

The security guard slowly pulled the handle of the knife out of my bag while staring at me, like I was a complete idiot, but maybe not the biggest idiot he had dealt with thus far that day (I hear Trump was at the meetings). He asked what it was, and I replied, “It appears to be a knife. A kitchen knife.”

~Appears~, I said, as if my eyes might have been deceiving me and it was actually a greasy slice of NY pizza. Which, full disclosure, is another thing I might realistically have been carrying around in my bag. And while my mind had strayed to pizza, this security guard continued to look at me like I was an idiot and slowly asked me if I could leave the knife outside. And I said he could keep it, no charge, and scurried inside. Yep.

What I mean to say by way of this anecdote is that you probably shouldn’t be coming to me for tips on knife etiquette. In fact, I won’t judge you for a second if you purchase a pre-cut butternut so you don’t have to subject yourself to hacking one to pieces. It’s faster and easier and will leave you with enough energy to uncork a bottle of wine.

Now to the main event: The butternut squash curry. This is an attempt to recreate a dish I had at a really excellent Thai restaurant in DC, Thai X-ing, and I was really pleased with the results.

It’s simple; aside from red curry paste, butternut squash, and a well-stocked spice cabinet, this recipe just calls for the most basic basics. And yet, the spice blend gives it the kind of complexity that I find myself pondering at Indian and Thai restaurants, trying to parse out the complex and complementary flavor profile.

Also, the texture is luscious, thick but still slurp-able, and the butternut is perfectly tender. And it’s also made in one pot so that’s a little bonus. And I’ll stop going on about this butternut squash curry now and let you make it. Bye!


Print Recipe
Butternut Squash Red Curry
  1. Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet or medium sauce pan over a medium flame. Add diced shallots and salt and sauté for a few minutes, stirring regularly, until shallots become fragrant and somewhat translucent.
  2. Add grated ginger and cumin seeds and stir regularly for another two minutes. Incorporate diced garlic and coriander powder and sauté, stirring continuously, for another minute.
  3. Pour coconut milk into the pan and whisk in red curry paste until fully incorporated. Add cardamom and butternut squash. Adjust heat to medium-low and cover. Cover and cook until squash is fork-tender, about 20-25 minutes.
  4. Stir in soy sauce, lime juice, and sugar. Taste and season with additional soy sauce, lime, and sugar to taste.
  5. Top with chopped cilantro or mint, according to your preferences. While cilantro is more traditional, I’ve found that a bit of mint works really well. Serve with rice.
Recipe Notes

Spiciness: The level of spiciness of this dish can vary dramatically based on the red curry paste you use. As a quick-and-dirty rule, the less English you see on the label, the spicier it is likely to be. Two tablespoons of curry paste will probably produce something that is slightly to moderately spicy, but be conservative and mix in extra at the end if you shy away from spicy stuff.

Vegetarian red curry paste: Usually it’s not hard to find a vegetarian variety, but occasionally store-bought pastes contain fish sauce. Be sure to check the ingredients.

Modifications: This butternut squash curry is pretty riff-able. I like the simplicity of the butternut, but you can also throw in any other veggies you see fit. Some good options are snap peas, peppers, and mushrooms, or whatever else you want.

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