Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Paneer and Winter Squash Coconut Curry

It's official.  I'm ready for summer.

Living in upstate New York, I'm looking at another 92 days until I don't have to wear 12 layers just to walk my dogs around the block.

In addition to dealing with freezing temperatures almost every day for the past two weeks, I've had not one but two colds in the past MONTH.  Why? Because I work at a health food store and make juices for other sick people that SHOULD be wearing surgical masks and coughing into their elbows instead of breathing all over me and my already weakened immune system.

On the other hand, winter time does has it advantages, like sledding, bourbon and comfort food.

The thought of eating a salad isn't too appealing this time of the year, so stews, soups and curries have been in high rotation.  Although winter squash is beginning to fade out of season, butternut squash is still available at the markets and I've been using it in everything from pizza to soup to this here coconut curry.

It's creamy, hot, and delicious and will (if only for a split second) make you hate winter just a little bit less.

Paneer and Winter Squash Coconut Curry (serves 2-4)

4 c. peeled, winter squash (I used butternut), cut into 1 inch cubes
6 oz. paneer, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
3 T. sunflower oil (or any other neutral oil), divided
1 T. coconut oil
1 small onion, diced
3 T. ginger, minced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t. mustard seeds
1/2 t. cumin seed
1/2 t. turmeric
3/4 t. curry powder
1/2 t. sea salt, plus more to taste
1 15 oz. can coconut milk

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place squash in a bowl and drizzle with 1 1/2 T. of the sunflower oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and spread on a sheetpan. Bake for 20 minutes or until fork tender.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 1/2 T. sunflower oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the paneer in a single layer and cook for a couple minutes on each side until very lightly browned. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb any excess oil. 
Using the same skillet, heat the coconut oil over medium heat.  Add the cumin and mustard seeds and cook for a couple minutes, until the seeds start to sizzle.  Add the onion and turmeric and cook until the onion is softened, about 3-4 minutes.  Add the ginger and garlic and cook for a couple more minutes.  If the mixture starts to stick, add a splash of water and give it a stir.  
Add the coconut milk, sea salt and curry powder and cook until the coconut milk comes to a boil. Add the butternut squash, cover, reduce the heat and let simmer for five minutes.  Stir in the paneer and cilantro and heat through for another minute or so.

Serve hot with rice.

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