This simple fresh curry paste takes only minutes to prepare. It envelopes sweet, golden chunks of butternut squash with a beautiful & savory green sauce in the time it takes the accompanying rice to cook. Try making it with any prepared curry paste for an even simpler dish.
- 1 winter squash, about 1½ pounds
- 2 tbsn. coarsely chopped shallots or yellow onion
- 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped garlic
- 1 tsp. peeled and coarsely chopped fresh ginger
- 2 green New Mexicans or Padrones
- 3 tablespoons plus ½ cup water
- ¾ cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves/ stems
- 1 can (14 oz.) unsweetened coconut milk (1 ¾ c)
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. salt
- ¼ c. fresh thai basil leaves
Trim off the stem and blossom end of the squash. Halve lengthwise and scoop out and discard the seeds & fibers. Cut into large chunks and carefully peel each chunk. Cut peeled chunks into 1-in. pieces. You will have about 4 c. Set aside. In a small food processor or blender, combine the shallots or onion, garlic, ginger, chilies, the 3 T. water, and ½ cup of the cilantro. Grind until you have a fairly smooth paste, pulsing the motor and stopping often to stir down the sides of the container and incorporate all the ingredients. You will have about ¼ cup bright green paste. Set aside.
Shake the coconut milk can well. Spoon out ½ cup into a medium saucepan and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until it thickens and releases its sweet fragrance, about 3 minutes. Add the curry paste and cook for 1- 2 minutes, mashing, scraping, and stirring until the paste is dissolved into the coconut milk and heated through. Add the remaining coconut milk, the remaining ½ cup water, the sugar, salt, and butternut squash. Raise the heat to high and bring the curry to a boil.
Stir well, reduce the heat to a gentle boil, and continue cooking until the squash is tender and the sauce is smooth and evenly colored a soothing green, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, cut all but a few of the basil leaves crosswise into thin strips. When the curry is cooked, stir in the basil strips and the remaining ¼ cup cilantro. Remove from the heat and transfer to a serving bowl.
Garnish with the reserved basil leaves and serve hot or warm.