Kabocha Squash and Red Lentil Curry (V, GF)

photo of kabocha squash-red lentil curry in white bowl on purple placemat on the dinner table

Community cookoffs are a delicious way to bring people together!

It’s almost time again for the Austin Food Blogger Alliance (AFBA) Annual Community Cookoff! This year’s theme is “Oodles of Noodles” and will be held on Sunday, September 23, 2018 from 2-4 pm at the Brew & Brew. It will be a celebration of carbs and the recipes of many chefs working hard to please your palate!

This year’s cookoff motivated me to post about last year’s AFBA 2017 Collossal Curry Cookoff. As a brand new member of the AFBA, I decided to enter my Kabocha Squash and Red Lentil Curry in the cookoff. I was a bit scared, but I thought it would be a good way to meet my fellow AFBA members and showcase the type of food that I cook.

Curries don’t have to be hot to be flavorful, aromatic, and delicious!

I was excited for people to try my vegan curry which was not at all hot and spicy. I wanted to make the curry flavorful (with sweet kabocha squash, fennel, sweet potato, and curry leaves) and spicy rather than hot (with ginger, garlic, turmeric, coriander, cumin, and cinnamon). I also used red lentils to give the curry great body, flavor, and texture. Yum!

fresh ginger and bowl of spices for Kabocha Squash and Red Lentil Curry

Kabocha Squash and Red Lentil Curry (V, GF)
 
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Author:
Serves: 2 quarts
Ingredients
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 3 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil
  • 1 cup sweet onion, finely diced
  • ½ cup carrot, finely diced
  • ½ cup celery, finely diced
  • 2 fronds fresh curry leaves, chiffonade or 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1 cup sweet potato, small dice
  • 1 cup fennel bulb, small dice
  • 2 cups kabocha or butternut squash, small dice
  • 1 cup zucchini, small dice
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 cups filtered or spring water
  • 1 teaspoon tamari, or to taste (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon ume plum vinegar, or to taste (optional)
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh basil, chiffonade
  • lemon or lime wedges, for garnish
Instructions
  1. Rinse red lentils several times and soak in a bowl with water for about an hour.
  2. Heat heavy-bottomed soup pot on medium heat. When hot, add coconut oil, onion, and pinch of sea salt. Sauté on medium heat until soft.
  3. Add the carrot, celery, curry leaves or bay leaf, ginger, and garlic and sauté on medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Stir in powdered spices.
  4. Add the chopped sweet potato, fennel, squash, zucchini, salt, and pepper. Sauté for 4 minutes.
  5. Drain red lentils and add them to the vegetable sauté. Add water, bring to a boil, then turn to low and simmer until lentils and vegetables are soft, about 20 minutes.
  6. Stir in coconut milk. Season with tamari and ume vinegar (or sea salt). Heat until simmering.
  7. Add fresh herbs and turn off heat.
  8. Serve on top of rice with a squeeze of lemon or lime juice.

3rd place finish!

After a few hours of curry tasting and ballot casting, I was thrilled to get a 3rd place finish, and went home with various gift cards and goodies from local businesses. It ended up being such a fun day!

I hope you’ll try making this recipe when you are in the mood for something sweet, savory, and nourishing. It is delicious with basmati rice and a crisp green side salad. I also add baby spinach when warming up leftovers to give it some freshness.

Sign up for this year’s cookoff!

And by the way, get your tickets here for the 2018 AFBA Oodles of Noodles cookoff on September 23rd. It will be an experience to remember!

Please let me know if you’d like to chat about cooking lessons, corporate team building, dinner parties, or yoga retreat catering. My public group cooking classes are listed here.

Winter Fruit Salad with Pomegranate and Coconut

Over New Year’s I was invited to brunch. With the weather being super cold (for Austin), I thought about making a soup, a pot of beans, or something warm! But the hostess asked if I could bring fruit… my hopes were dashed! My mind went to baked apples or apple crisp, but I wasn’t feeling inspired. Then I noticed the shiny red pomegranate in the fruit bowl that I had meant to use over the holidays. The idea was born for making a winter fruit salad with pomegranate, using fruits that are in season all winter.

I ended up with a combination of apples (3 varieties), pears, citrus, and pomegranate. The first time I made it I used Satsuma tangerines (a little bigger and easier to peel than clementines), but in the photos here (I made it again a week later) I used some delicious heirloom navel oranges.

For some added texture and sweetness, I added a handful of unsweetened, shredded coconut. Not exactly “seasonal or local” but easy to find in the stores around the holidays. I used the Trader Joe’s brand which I had bought for holiday baking (which never happened) and was surprised at how fresh and delicious is was. I’m actually thinking about making some coconut milk with the rest of it because it seems super fresh and sweet (although no added sugar).

 

Winter Fruit Salad with Pomegranate and Coconut
 
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This fruit salad is fun to make around the winter holidays when pomegranates are big, beautiful, and juicy. Use different kinds of apples and pears if you can find them to enjoy the different colors and flavors they impart.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert or Salad
Serves: 12 servings
Ingredients
  • 3 apples (different colors and varieties)
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • 2 tablespoons spring or filtered water
  • 2 pears, medium ripe
  • 2 Satsuma tangerines, clementines, or navel oranges
  • seeds of one pomegranate
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
  • ½ cup shredded, unsweetened coconut, plus more for garnishing
Instructions
  1. Slice apples and pears into bite-sized pieces. They can be thin slices or chunks, depending on your preference. Place sliced fruit into a large glass bowl and drizzle with lemon juice and water. Toss together to coat apples and pears, then drain before fruits release their own juices. This will ensure that apples and pears do not brown.
  2. Peel tangerines and peel into sections. Add to fruit bowl.
  3. Remove seeds from pomegranate by cutting pomegranate in half and tapping the back of the pomegranate with a large wooden spoon until seeds fall into a large bowl. Remove remaining seeds gently with your hands and take out any pith that went into the bowl. Add seeds to the fruit bowl.
  4. Toss with maple syrup and/or cinnamon, if desired. The salad is great on its own, but has a sweeter taste with the maple syrup and/or cinnamon.
  5. Add shredded coconut and toss together gently.
  6. When serving the salad, top with some additional coconut.

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