We are entering the most glorious time of year. The leaves are turning various shades of amber and gold while I get to snuggle up in flannels and scarves to fend off the crisp, refreshing air, and there are pumpkins everywhere! Practically everyone is sharing pumpkin spice pies and cookies, but pumpkin is a stellar addition to healthy savory meals, too! I don’t know about you, but I know I have plenty of sweets in my future with the holidays coming up. In the meantime, I’m trying to stay as healthy as possible and there is no need to get a head start piling on the sugar early. So… a delicious, healthy and savory way to use pumpkin, you ask? Uh- duh! Make a curry! Roasted Pumpkin Coconut Curry to be exact.
Something about making curry also reminds be to slow down and enjoy life for the crazy journey it is, which I needed to be reminded of this past Saturday. I woke up in one of those perfect moods. I was happy and motivated and tried to keep it that way. My morning kicked off with things that make me happy… my squat challenge, photographing some recipes, playing with my new computer. Basically, there was nothing to complain about and everything to be grateful about. But still, something just felt off.
Later that day, we drove up to the mountains for a wonderful fall hike to see the changing colors of the aspens. We packed-in a few brews (gf now comes in cans!!! I can barely contain my excitement), meandered through the woods, and just enjoyed the outdoors. On paper, it was a perfect day. So why did I feel so unfulfilled and annoyed? My theory relates to checklists.
I am a person of checklists. I have a gazillion to-do lists and like to check everything off: take out the trash, buy more soap, get tickets to the play, get good grades, great job, boyfriend, house, retirement plan, dishes, laundry, creative outlet, fulfilling side hustle, fun, exercise… Ugh! It never ends and it’s overwhelming! Big or small, everything I want to do or feel obligated to do lives on a list somewhere. As such, a future accomplishment or enjoyment becomes an impending task and all of it starts to feel like a chore, even the stuff I actually love to do. And it was bringing me down.
The stress lifted a little later that night at a townie bar playing live music. As I walked towards the stage, I simultaneously saw all the reasons I moved to aspen and all the reasons I moved away circling the dance floor in front of me. It was in this moment, with the ween cover band, the free spirited dancers, funky hats, unkept dreads, and sweaters you thought disappeared in 1993, that I remembered. It’s fun. It’s supposed to be fun. We don’t know the end. We can’t control the future through checklists. Relax. Enjoy. Smile. Sometimes you need the backcountry hills to remind you that we don’t have to rush. Life will come as it is supposed to. Now is for now, not for the future. And you don’t need a checklist to get you there.
That is the art of slow living and feeling at home throughout the journey of life, no matter what obstacles you might be facing. Getting outside and eating healthy meals with friends and family helps me connect to that. Now I know it’s just food, but this pumpkin coconut curry feels like home; like that cozy place where you can be pleasant and contented in the present moment. It felt like the perfect thing to make to celebrate both slow living and the oncoming of fall.
Conveniently, I made some homemade pumpkin puree from scratch last Friday. The pumpkin I used was so large that I only used half of the pumpkin to make the puree. Luckily, I reserved the other half for this recipe! You can get your pumpkin for this in a number of ways, including already cooked and cubed. I, however, baked my pumpkin squash side down in the oven for 45-55 minutes or until the skin was slightly browned and they started to sink in. After letting it cool a little, I simply sliced 1-2 inch cubes of pumpkin.
Now, pumpkins vary tremendously in size so if you bake a pumpkin for this recipe, you may have some leftover pumpkin. If that happens to you, you could turn part of that leftover pumpkin into puree if you’d like. You could also freeze the pumpkin cubes for later use. Pumpkin does actually freeze very well (if it lasts long enough, of course). So, save the extra pumpkin cubes or puree for future curries and pies 🙂
After you have your pumpkin, all the work is done on the skillet. You can mix the ingredients in one by one and let them cook while you prepare the next ingredient. The curry took about 30 minutes on the stove to complete. Now then, if you decide to serve over rice, make sure to start the rice at the same time as the curry so they will both be done around the same time.
I served this Roasted Pumpkin Coconut Curry over rice, but I think the curry would be awesome plain, served as a soup, or over zoodles. If you eat with rice, it could serve 4. By itself it serves 2.
Roasted Pumpkin Coconut Curry
Put coconut aminos and oil in the pan and heat on medium-high.
Immediately add Thai red curry paste. Let cook on medium for 5 minutes. It will begin to smell delicious and aromatic. After you can smell the spice in the air, turn to low and cook another 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, chop onions. Then add to dish.
Half and slice zucchini into half-moon shape slices. Then add to skillet.
Turn heat up to medium and sauté for 1-3 minutes.
Add coconut milk, cilantro, and pumpkin to the skillet. Stir and combine.
Plate over rice, cauliflower rice, or zoodles.
Optionally garnish with fresh cilantro and roasted salted pumpkin seeds.
Serve and enjoy!
- Peanuts are great with this too if you don't have pumpkin seeds.
- You can 100% swap out cilantro for parsley if you are a super taster 😉
- You can use EVOO or sesame seed oil instead of avocado oil.
- Don't have coconut aminos? No problem! I used coconut aminos, but this would be just as good with fish sauce if you are not vegan. The fish sauce adds some great umami flavor. Tamari also works well as a vegan substitute for coconut aminos. Both fish sauce and tamari are a little stronger than coconut aminos, so you would want to add 1/2 tbsp of either fish sauce or tamari and 1/2 tbsp oil or water to replace the 1 tbsp coconut aminos.