Summer Squash and Fenugreek Curry

July 3, 2011 § 1 Comment

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Why are we only allowed to eat certain hot food in the summer? Why would it be so weird to have a beef stew with seasonal vegetables when burgers and hot dogs and barbecue style cooking are all totally cool? Spicy curries seem to fall in a gray area because they aren’t exactly summer food, but maybe the heat of the spices cancels out the temperature and combats the heat? Can you fight heat with heat? Has every sentence of this post really been a question?

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farmer’s market loot
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I bring up this question because I actually wanted to make a soup today despite the weather (not the hottest day, but still pretty warm). I went to the Sunday market in hopes of gathering tomatoes and bell peppers for a roasted tomato and red pepper soup, but it seems that it is still a bit early in the season for (local) red bell peppers. So I picked up a bunch of squash like I have been for weeks, but, for the first time this season, yellow summer squash! I also found an herb in a bin marked as “mint” but I could see, smell and taste that it was not mint at all. I was excited to find out it was fenugreek so I picked up a bag and decided to go the Indian route with this evening’s dinner.

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Simple curry: kidney beans, coconut milk, usual spices, ginger and garlic … you know the drill. I think that the summer squash is a bit different for a curry because most curries simmer for hours and the meat/vegetables are cooked to practically falling apart, but we always try to keep from being too heavy-handed with the cooking time on our precious summer vegetables because they are so fresh and perfect just the way they are. I didn’t cook the squash to death, but its 10 minute simmer in the curry allowed it to absorb all of the flavors and get a dreamy tenderness that you don’t usually see with summer squash. If you haven’t used fenugreek before, it is a pretty mild tasting herb and I am sure I will have fun experimenting with the rest of it. It has a slightly bittersweet, floral flavor reminiscent of oregano. I have read that it reminds some people of maple syrup, but I don’t totally get that. Either way, this pretty great – a steaming hot and spicy dish featuring fresh, local and flavorful ingredients.

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Summer Squash and Fenugreek Curry:
– 1 onion, small dice
– 1 thumb-sized piece ginger, minced
– 1 green chili, minced
– 3 cloves garlic, minced

– 1 1/4 tsp cumin
– 1/2 tsp turmeric
– 1/4 tsp coriander

– 1/4 tsp cayenne
– 3 cups cooked kidney beans, water reserved (approx. 1 1/2 cups dried plus 28 oz water)
– 1 can coconut milk
– 1/4 cup red curry paste
– 1/2 cup fenugreek, minced
– 1/3 cup shredded coconut
– 3 lbs summer squash

In a heavy bottomed pot, cook onion until soft. Add ginger, chili, garlic, cumin, turmeric, coriander, cayenne and cook for about thirty seconds longer, until fragrant. Add beans and reserved water, coconut milk, and red curry paste and bring up to a boil and down to a simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes, or until it has reduced to your desired consistency (be careful not to over reduce or you won’t have enough room for all of the squash). Add the fenugreek, coconut and squash and simmer 10 minutes longer, or until the squash is tender to your liking. Serve over rice or by itself.


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