Thai Pumpkin Curry
Thai food is extremely popular and one of my favorites, yet it’s often loaded with added sugar. This flavorful recipe is an adaptation of my usual red curry which capitalizes on healthy fats, is gluten-free, and contains a much lower amount of added sugar. And, it features nutrient-rich pumpkin!
Choose a cooking pumpkin, also known as a “pie” or “sugar” pumpkin. There are many varieties such as Autumn Gold, Baby Pam, Cinderella, Fairy Tale, and more. Butternut squash also works well if fresh pumpkin is not available. You will not need an entire pumpkin for this recipe so plan to use the remainder for a delicious soup or any other recipe calling for winter squash!
Look for brands of canned goods that contain low or no added sugar such as –
- canned, unsweetened coconut milk: Aroy-D, 365 Organic, Wegmans brand, Trader Joe’s
- fish sauce: Red Boat (no added sugar and gluten-free), Wegmans brand
Different brands of Thai red curry paste provide more or less spicy heat. Mae Ploy and Aroy-D are my favorites (so far…). Both are flavorful with a nice level of heat. They can be found at most Asian markets or online. If you prefer more mild curry, try using 1 tablespoon of the paste in the recipe. For a spicier curry, use 1 1/2 – 2 tablespoons of curry paste in the recipe.
Makes: approximately 4 servings
2 tablespoons oil (choose avocado, olive, sesame, canola, peanut, or sunflower)
1 small or 1/2 large bell pepper (red, yellow or orange), cut into 1/4 inch slices
1/2 small sweet onion, cut into 1/2” – 1/4” slices
1 can (13 –15 ounces) unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup vegetable broth, low or no sodium
1 – 2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste (to taste and heat-level preference)
1 tablespoon fish sauce or coconut aminos
1 teaspoon lime juice
1 teaspoon honey or molasses
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
12 ounces diced pumpkin, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
Choose one protein:
- 1-pound boneless, skinless chicken (thighs or breast), cut into ¼ – ½ inch slices
- 1 pound of extra firm tofu, drained and cut into ½-inch cubes
- 1 pound of any firm white fish – cod, haddock, hake, or another favorite, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups lightly packed spinach or baby super greens, washed, patted dry
Handful fresh Thai basil leaves or sweet basil leaves, washed and patted dry
Cooked brown Jasmine rice (hot, ready to serve)
Chopped cashew nuts, optional
- Heat oil in a large sauté pan or wok over medium-high heat; carefully add the bell pepper and onion when the oil is hot and shimmering. Stir-fry vegetables until tender crisp and lightly brown – about 2-3 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a bowl or dish and set aside.
- Reduce the heat to medium, and add the coconut milk, broth, curry paste, fish sauce, lime juice, honey or molasses, and nutmeg to the wok or saute pan. Heat these ingredients to a gentle simmer, cooking for 1 minute, whisking smooth so the curry paste is completely incorporated.
NOTE: Keep the coconut milk at a gentle simmer over medium to medium-low heat; avoid boiling or it may separate.
- Add the pumpkin, stirring gently to coat, then simmer gently for 8 – 10 minutes, until pumpkin is soft when pierced with a fork or sharp knife but still holds its shape.
- Add the protein choice (chicken, tofu or fish), stirring gently, then simmer to allow it to cook through. The chicken will take 3 – 5 minutes and the tofu or fish will take 2 – 3 minutes.
- Add the onions and bell pepper back into the pan, along with the fresh spinach or super greens and the basil. Gently stir, and continue to simmer for another 2 minutes.
- Remove from heat and serve over cooked rice. Garnish with chopped cashew nuts, if desired.
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