Times flies and it seems like it was only weeks ago that I highlighted foods for late summer, but time marches on and it is definitely time to focus on autumn foods that are considered most appropriate for nourishing and balancing the body for optimum health. As in the other seasons, take your cue from what is newly harvested and in the market: Apples, pears, squashes, sweet potato, Brussels sprouts, and other forms of cruciferous vegetables are plentiful. Since the weather has definitely become colder, we are craving warm soups and stews. Chinese herbalists also recommend pungent and spicy foods that are “warming” to the body as well as whole grains like brown rice, couscous, and quinoa.
This Curried Coconut Stew is just right for this time of year. For this recipe, I use tofu, carrots, green beans, and butternut squash, but don’t hesitate to add or substitute sweet potato and other types of squash such as acorn and delicata. Serve it with a whole grain on the side and you have a filling, sumptuous meal that will satisfy even the carnivores.
Curry Coconut Stew with Fresh Herbs 6 servings
1 square extra-firm tofu, about ¾ pound) cut horizontally into 1-inch slabs
2 medium red onions, peeled, ends trimmed and cut into small dice, about 3 cups
1 ¼ pounds butternut squash, peeled and seeded, (or one12-ounce package)
½ pound (or 12-ounce bag) trimmed green beans, cut on the diagonal in half
2 ½-inch slices fresh ginger, peeled, about the size of a quarter
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 ½ teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
Sauce (combine all in a small bowl):
1 ½ cans l(13.5 ounces each) light unsweetened coconut milk
3 tablespoons fish or soy sauce
1 ½ tablespoons sugar
1 ½ tablespoons virgin olive oil
1 pound baby carrots
½ cup shredded fresh basil leaves (optional)
1. Wrap the slabs of tofu in paper towels and set a heavy weight, such as a heavy skillet, on top and let stand 15 minutes to remove excess water. Cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes. Cut the butternut squash into 1 ½-inch squares.
2. Drop the Curry Seasonings into the feed tube of a food processor fitted with a metal blade while the machine is running. Turn the machine on and off to chop the seasonings evenly and mince to a coarse powder.
3. Heat the oil in a heavy casserole or a Dutch oven over medium low heat until very hot, about 20 seconds. Add the Curry Seasonings and diced onions and cook, partially covered, over medium-low heat and stirring with a wooden spoon for about 3 minutes until the onion is tender and the seasonings are fragrant. Add the Sauce and bring to a boil. Add the tofu, c, squash, and carrots and stir to coat the vegetables with the sauce. Bring the mixture back to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the squash is al dente.
4. Add the green beans and stir. Continue to cook for 5 to 7 minutes until the green beans are tender. Sprinkle in the fresh basil (if using) and toss lightly for a few seconds to coat. Scoop into a serving dish or serve from the casserole with rice or another whole grain.