A pumpkin recipe on a self-proclaimed pumpkin hater‘s site? Don’t be alarmed. It may look like I’m going back on my word, but I haven’t turned a new leaf and become a lover of all things pumpkin.
However, I have continued to try earnestly to find something (anything!) pumpkin that I might love, besides the seeds, which really don’t count. And after a bite of my friend Justin’s pumpkin curry order at Koh Samui quite a few months back and a recent re-order to confirm that it wasn’t just the cocktails before that first bite that made me enjoy the spicy dish, I can say with certainty that, for me, Thai pumpkin curry is to pumpkins what banana bread is to bananas: the savior of an otherwise icky, squishy texturally questionable food.
After trying to find festive but practical decorations for my Thanksgiving table, I settled on a large sugar pie pumpkin, two pears, two candles, and some fall leaves. After one pear was sacrificed in the name of pear chips and the other enjoyed as a snack, I was left with a massive amount of pumpkin. Half of it got roasted, pureed, and sent straight into the freezer, but the other half I reserved to recreate the spicy dish of Thai red curry paste, coconut milk, and pumpkin that had made me reconsider the merits of that orange, round gourd.
Thai pumpkin curry is a great way to use up a lot of pumpkin and works wonderfully for leftovers, as the curry sauce only tastes better after sitting for a couple days. Plus, it’s a one-pot dish, making for easy cooking and cleanup. I used red bell peppers, green beans, and cilantro to add some color to the creamy orange curry, but you could throw in whatever veggies you have on hand (if you’re making enough for leftovers, I would caution against adding asparagus and other veggies that don’t take kindly to reheating and overcooking).
Also, although I think this would make a fantastic vegetarian dish, I tossed in some chicken to appease the carnivorous sister and fiance who so kindly acted as my taste testers. They must have enjoyed it because, between the time dinner ended and the time I woke up the next morning, the seemingly massive amount of leftovers had all but disappeared. I’ll take that as the utmost compliment to the chef!
Thai Pumpkin Curry
Serves 6 to 8
Make this dish vegan by skipping the chicken, as the pumpkin curry is quite hearty on its own.
2 c. chicken breast, cubed
1 Tbsp. olive oil
4 c. sugar pie pumpkin, seeded, peeled and cubed
1 1/2 c. green beans, chopped 2 inches long
1 red bell pepper, chopped to same size as green beans
14 oz. coconut milk
1 1/2 to 2 Tbsp. Thai red curry paste (recommended brand: Mae Ploy)
1 c. stock (veggie or chicken)
zest of one orange
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 lime, juiced
1/4 c. cilantro, chopped
salt to taste
steamed rice or farro for serving
In large sauce pan over medium-high heat, sear chicken in olive oil until white but slightly underdone. Remove and set aside.
Reduce heat to medium. Skim thick top off coconut milk, and add the top to the same large sauce pan. Add curry paste, whisking and allowing to sizzle until combined. Add remaining coconut milk, stock, orange zest, and brown sugar, and bring to a boil. Add pumpkin cubes, and simmer until tender, about 10 minutes. Add bell pepper and green beans, and cook until al dente, about 5 minutes. Add chicken, and cook for additional minute to cook through. Stir in lime juice and cilantro. Serve hot over steamed rice or farro.