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Squash and Apple Coconut Curry

Two weeks after the cleanse, and what do I post? Not cookies, not bread, not a pot roast, but a very healthy, vegan-optional weeknight recipe. I guess I should consider myself lucky; this is the food I want to eat. Because as I returned to the wide world of food options and ventured outside my kitchen after my new year’s plan, I was left somewhat disappointed.

In the past two weeks, I’ve had pepperoni pizza, which tasted good at first, but I later wished I had skipped it. Dining out three times over two days also did me in. I was thankful that at least on those days, I got in a nourishing breakfast of oatmeal, cooked in almond milk with bananas and blackberries. On a January morning, nothing beats it. Now, I’m certainly not saying not to eat out, but I think I can now make a pretty good argument for staying in. Besides, I think dining out is much more fun when it’s something to look forward to.

So to the curry. In the spirit of eating in more, I’ve been trying to simplify my weeknight meals. Good books, good movies and postponed Scrabble games are demanding my attention. I found this curry recipe on the Bon Appétit site during the “foodie cleanse” but for some reason had not included it in my meal plan. I am so glad I revisited it because it was not only delicious, it made for a great weeknight meal, ready in less than 30 minutes and without a kitchen full of dishes.

I will be the first to admit that I posted another squash (pumpkin) and red lentil recipe not that long ago, but this is very different. This is thick, rich (thanks to coconut milk) and subtlety sweet. The spices are warming and more reminiscent of Morocco than Thailand, but it works together and is hearty and satisfying. The yogurt and chopped apple garish are not to be missed.

Squash and Apple Coconut Curry

Slightly Adapted from Nourish, by Marissa Lippert

1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
1 2- to 2 1/2-pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks
1/2 large yellow onion, diced
10 ounces light coconut milk
2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup red lentils, rinsed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Dash of cayenne pepper
2 dried red chilies
3/4 teaspoon salt
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 cup diced apple
Extra apple for garnish, finely diced
Crème fraîche or plain yogurt for garnish

1. In a large cast-iron pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil and sauté the squash and onion about 10 minutes over medium-high heat until lightly browned and semi-soft.

2. Add in the coconut milk, broth, lentils, spices, chilies, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in diced apple with 10 minutes of cooking time left.

3. Garnish with extra diced apple and a dollop of crème fraîche or plain yogurt if desired.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

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