Thursday, March 27, 2014

Frugal Foodie on a British Pound: A Little Extravagance
How depressing. We are already a few days into spring, but the weather has taken a turn reminiscent of winter. When the cold and rain refuse to go away, it is often better to embrace the dreariness whole-heartedly. In my book that means winter squash. Consumed for probably close to 10,000 years (at least in the new world), the winter squash's ability to store well made it a dependable source of sustenance, beta carotene, and (dare I say it) a small slice of happiness. But the banality of winter veg, even those as beautiful as pumpkins, becomes trying towards the end. To avoid lingering winter blues, I decided to branch out and indulge just a bit.

Enter the Black Futsu. This Japanese squash - Curcibita moschata - is known for its dark, almost black, green skin that progresses to chalky tan as it matures. Now this is not your honey-sweet delicata or the dense and comforting buttercup. But rather, the rough-skinned vegetable has a high moisture bright orange flesh, that quickly softens to tenderness, and hints at kinship to the butternut (which is actually the same species...). And though it is considered an "heirloom" variety, the actual date of naisance appears tragically difficult to pinpoint.

That's all well and good, but trying out a new variety of winter squash doesn't seem like much of an indulgence! But pumpkins have this amazing way of reaching a level of richness. Steeped in a mix of warm and exotic curry spices with decadent coconut milk, a little bit of extravagance goes a long way (no, seriously, don't add too much coconut milk!). Perhaps my starving student status has set my standards pretty low, but this might just be where frugality meets luxury.

Curry Me Pumpkin
1 small onion, diced
1 cup dry butter beans, soaked overnight
1/2 cup red lentils (not black or green...)
2 1/2 cups water or vegetable broth
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 cups cubed pumpkin (I used half a black futsu, but a butternut or red kuri would work nicely as well)
2 cups spinach (can use kale, but cut back 1/2 cup)
1-2 tbs curry powder
1 tbs tomato paste
Salt to taste
1/2 cup raw cashews (optional)

1. Heat a little oil in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Sautée up the onion until slightly translucent.
2. Add water and bring to a boil before starting the beans. Cook covered for about 25 minutes. Toss in pumpkin after ten or so.
3. Then slip in the red lentils, curry powder, coconut milk, salt, and tomato paste. Let simmer another ten minutes, after which the spinach can be added.
4. Turn off burner and keep covered for another ten minutes while the spinach wilts and the lentils finish disintegrate and thicken the curry (add cashews at this time if desired).
5. Serve warm over rice or quinoa. 

More pumpkin and curry desires? SOUP! Posting to Wellness Weekends (after a long hiatus)...

And don't forget, this is the lead-up to Live Below the Line at the end of next month! Consider donating to the Rainforest Foundation, helping to maintain the rights, traditional knowledge, and food security of indigenous peoples.

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