Updated: Jul 25, 2021
This dish started off by taking a single ingredient such as a butternut squash and seeing how I could highlight it with different flavours, textures and cooking methods. I love making these types of dishes as you really get the chance to focus in on simple techniques and a singular ingredient. For the curry I went with a light Indonesian style yellow curry which I found enhanced the flavour of the squash by being not overly spicy or aromatic giving the chance to be able to taste the butternut squash. This vegan version of a curry tasted delicious and I want to share this simple but elegant recipe with you! Let's get to it!
To serve 4
1 butternut sqaush
6-8 small cherry tomatoes
20g roasted peanuts
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp sugar
pea shoots/purple radish for garnish (optional)
4-6 small Birdseye chillies
2 lemongrass stems
4 garlic cloves
3 cm piece galangal or ginger
1 1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp coriander seed
1/2 tsp cumin
2 tbsp palm sugar
400ml coconut milk
1 lime juice
salt to season
Let's start by making the paste for the yellow curry, begin with the dry spices, in a dry pan add 1/2 tsp cumin, 1 tsp coriander seed and 1 1/2 tsp of turmeric powder. Toast until fragrant then set to one side. Now using a food processor add 3 roughly chopped shallots, 2 chopped bruised lemongrass, a 3cm piece sliced galangal, 4-6 Birdseye chillies (depending on how spicy you like it), 4 garlic cloves and the roasted coriander, cumin and turmeric. Blitz to breakdown the ingredients adding a drizzle of oil to smooth out the paste. When the paste is ready place into a container and place to one side. You can also make this curry paste in a pestle and mortar if you like.
2. Now that the curry paste is made let's move onto preparing the squash. Separate the bottom half from the top by slicing in half leaving the skin on. For the bottom part of the butternut, slice in half and remove the seeds. Separate the seeds from the flesh then place to one side as we will roast these later. For the rest of the bottom part separate the squash into large wedges. Brush the wedges lightly with olive oil and place onto a baking tray. Roast the squash wedges on 170°c for 40-45 minutes depending on size.
3. For the top half of the butternut squash begin by peeling with a knife then using a peeler shave the flesh into thin strips. Now place a pan with a generous amount of oil and bring the oil temperature up to approximately 160°c. Add the strips and fry until lightly golden brown (approximately 3-4 minutes). When ready place onto a tray with kitchen paper to drain off the excess oil then season lightly with salt.
4. To give this dish a little extra texture I made up a toasted fragrant seed and nut mix to add another layer to the dish. Start by roasting the seeds from the butternut squash in a dry hot pan until lightly toasted. Then ground a handfull of peanuts and add to the squash seeds followed by 1 tsp garam masala, 1/2 tsp sugar and a pinch of salt. Toast all together until fragrant. When ready place into a bowl. Now all the prep is finished we can move onto cooking the curry and finishing the dish.
5. Now back to the curry, add a drizzle of oil to a pan and fry the paste on a medium heat until fragrant and slightly darker in colour. Then add 400ml of coconut milk and cook for 20 minutes to enable the curry to reduce. After 20 minutes of simmering add 2 tbsp palm sugar, a pinch of salt and the juice of 1/2 a lime. Check the seasoning to see if the curry is slightly sour, salty, spicy and sweet. When ready pass the curry through a fine sieve into a fresh pan and keep warm on a low heat.
6. Now to bring everything together, to reheat the squash firstly brush lightly with olive oil then either lightly blow torch or place under a salamander to heat and char. When charred season lightly with salt. Finally slice some cherry tomatoes in half and again lightly char with a blowtorch or place under a salamander.
7. Now we're ready to plate up, you can go about this how ever you prefer but I choose to do it this way. Place the squash into the centre of the plate then scatter the roasted squash seed mix either side. Add the charred cherry tomatoes then use the squash as a canvas to carry the squash crisps. Finish with a drizzle of the yellow curry on the side then add some purple radish and pea shoots...Hope you like this simple easy vegan recipe!
Instead of squash you could add other vegetables such as pumpkin, aubergine, sweet potato and treat it the same way as the butternut squash. The idea of this recipe was to use different techniques to elevate a single vegetable, although you could simply add different vegetables to the curry and go about it that way if you wish. This dish could make a great starting dish or even a main if you add some rice or noodles to bulk it out. Have fun and hopefully this recipe can give you some ideas how you cook with vegetables...