Ah, curry. I could probably write sonnets about curry and how much I love it. You might love curry, too—but you don’t love it the way I do. (Or maybe you do. Let’s be friends and share a curry!). Thai curry paste is a staple cooking item at my house. We have an entire shelf in the fridge dedicated to curry pastes, pickles and other spicy condiments to accompany curry. I eat it several times a week, sometimes daily when possible.
Curry is tasty especially when it’s loaded up with fresh seasonal veggies. This one features kabocha, an Asian variety of winter squash, along with cauliflower, kale and tofu. Friends, you need more curry in your life and this is one you definitely want to add to your menu this week.
Kabocha squash has a mild, sweet flavor like all winter squashes. I can usually find kabocha in my Asian market. It may be labeled as Thai or Japanese Pumpkin, Danhobak (Korean), or Fak Thong (Thai). This time of year, they are also usually available at Whole Foods and other well-stocked grocery stores. Hit up the farmers market and I’ll bet you’ll see them there, too. The shell or skin is a little tough, but not quite as tough as butternut squash. I typically cut the kabocha in half lengthwise and then cut and peel it like I would an apple — into wedges, cutting away the seeds, and running the knife around the edge to separate the flesh from the shell.
If you can’t find kabocha, you can substitute banana squash, which has a very similar flavor and texture, or butternut squash. It cooks quickly and absorbs flavors really well. Its mild flavor is a good match for the spicy yellow curry, cauliflower and kale. Also, this recipe makes a lot, and that’s on purpose: you’re going to want leftovers. I always make curry with leftovers in mind!
Kabocha, cauliflower, tofu and kale simmer in Thai yellow curry sauce for a scrumptious and satisfying meal. This recipe makes a large amount, and that's intentional--because the only thing better than curry is even more curry for lunch the next day.
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 4-6 tablespoons vegetarian yellow curry paste (I use Mae Ploy brand; start with less and add more as needed)
- 2 (14-ounce) cans light coconut milk
- 1 to 2 teaspoons coconut or palm sugar (optional)
- 2 cups peeled and diced kabocha squash*
- 2 cups cauliflower florets
- 1 (14-ounce) package firm tofu, drained and pressed, and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
- 4 cups chopped kale
- Salt to taste
- 3-4 cups hot cooked rice or quinoa
- Thai basil leaves, for garnish
- Add the coconut oil to a large sauce pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Heat until melted and hot, about 1 minute. Add the onion and cook, stirring constantly, until it starts to soften, 3-4 minutes. Add the curry paste and cook for about 1 minute or until fragrant, stirring constantly to make sure it doesn't burn. Add the coconut milk and the sugar, if using, and stir until smooth.
- Add the kabocha squash and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the kabocha is tender, about 10 minutes. Add the cauliflower and tofu. Cover again and cook, stirring once or twice, until the cauliflower is fork tender, about 5 minutes. Gently stir in the kale, being careful not to break up the tofu. Simmer uncovered until kale has wilted, about 3 minutes, then season with salt to taste.
- Serve over rice or quinoa and garnish with Thai basil leaves, if desired.
*Kabocha squash may also be labeled as Thai pumpkin, Japanese pumpkin, Danhobak (Korean) or Fak Thong (Thai). You may also substitute banana squash or butternut squash.