SOUTHEAST ASIAN SQUASH CURRY

A vegetarian was amongst my guests at a recent dinner party.  I served this as his main course.  Even non-vegetarians loved it.  Friend Gayle requested the recipe which I must have clipped from a magazine, perhaps Bon Appetit.

1 Tbsp plus 2 tsp vegetable oil, divided.

1 1/2 lb. butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch pieces

3/4 tsp cumin seeds

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

1 (14 oz) can unsweetened coconut milk (do not stir) divided

1 1/2 to 2 Tbsp Thai kitchen red curry paste (I used 1 1/2 and it was fiery enough)

1/3 cup water

1 (2 to 3 inch) cinnamon stick

3 whole cloves

5 oz baby spinach (5 cups packed)

1 Tbsp Asian fish sauce (or to taste)

1/4 cup salted roasted cashews, chopped

Accompaniment: lime wedges

Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over med-hi heat until it shimmers.  Saute squash with cumin and 1/4 tsp salt until beginning to brown, about 6 minutes.  Transfer to a plate.

Add remaining 2 tsp oil to skillet and cook onion over med. heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add 1/4 cup coconut milk from top of can and cook, stirring, until fat starts to separate and look glossy, about 2 minutes. Add curry paste and cook, stirring, 2 minutes.

Add squash, water, cinnamon, cloves, and remaining coconut milk and simmer, covered, until squash is tender, about 8 minutes.  Stir in spinach and cook, covered, until just wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in fish sauce.  Sprinkle with cashews.  Serve with jasmine rice.

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