It’s been consistently dark and cold these past few days, and even though I think about food a lot all year round, I think about food most of all when the weather’s like this. I think it might be because I’m just sitting around staring at the sky, and then I would immediately want to eat something warm. Last night, I craved something stewy – something warm and spicy and orange, and a bit tart, served over a bed of quinoa. I had a taste in mind, and so I just worked backwards from there with a little inspiration from the green curry recipe in Jamie at Home.
This dish is exotic Autumn in a pot – I ate it on top of quinoa, but you can eat it with any kind of rice, or even pita bread because it is not a watery stew. It is spicy, sweet, savoury, mushy, creamy, and hearty, all in one. Mission: accomplished.
This recipe made dinner for 2 plus 3 lunches. Cooking time is relatively short, about 30 minutes; the steps that require more time is the prepping of vegetables.
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro, washed and dried, with thicker stems removed
- 2 stalks lemon grass, outer layer removed, and cut into pinky finger length pieces
- 1 jalapeno pepper, halved and seeded
- 2 red chili peppers, halved and seeded
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 thumb sized ginger, peeled and chunked
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
For the stew, in order of appearance:
- 1 red pepper, diced (any bell pepper)
- 1 orange pepper diced (any bell pepper)
- 3-4 ripe tomatoes chopped into chunks, do not deseed, we want its juices!
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 can premium coconut milk, none of that reduced fat stuff
- ½ large or 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and chunked
- 4 veggie burger patties, cubed (or, a can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed; 2 cups of reconstituted chunky TVP)
- ½ fresh lemon
First, prep all vegetables in the stew – chop the peppers and tomatoes, prepare the butternut squash, and set all aside. Then, prep everything needed for the Spicy Paste. I recommend doing this second because of the jalapeno and chili peppers. You will want to do these last to avoid contaminating everything else with hot chili oil and reducing the number of times you need to wash everything. Be very careful seeding the hot peppers… I have had several mishaps. If available, use gloves.
Once everything is ready, in a food processor (yes, I had to borrow one for this dish) whizz together on high speed everything except the soy sauce and rice wine vinegar. Don’t forget to set aside a few sprigs of cilantro for garnish though! Scrape down the sides once or twice and whizz again. Once everything is in a fine paste, add in the soy sauce and vinegar and pulse several times. Set this aside for use later.
In a large pot, heat a tablespoon of oil (I used olive). Throw in the bell peppers and sautée for a few minutes, until its juices have come out. Throw in the cinnamon and cumin, plus the Spicy Paste. Sautée for another few minutes. In Jamie’s words, it will smell amazing! Throw in the tomatoes and cook until its juices have come out (about 3-5 minutes). Somewhere in there would be a good time to put some rice or quinoa on the stove.
Once the tomatoes have softened and juices have come out, pour in the entire can of coconut milk, and add the chopped butternut squash. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and put a lid on the pot to cook, about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally. While this is cooking, you can do some dishes and chop up the veggie burger patties! Once the butternut squash has softened (I like to squish it with a wooden spoon), add in the cubed patties (or beans or TVP), and cook, uncovered, for about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and squeeze in that half lemon! Add salt and soy sauce to taste (I added about a swig of soy sauce and 1 tsp salt).
Serve on a bed of rice, quinoa, or bread, with a cilantro garnish. To push this over the edge you can also add some toasted cashews on top. Delish!