The sweet, smooth butternut squash melds with the silky coconut milk spiked with harissa. Sometimes opposites work really well and this was one of those times. It is kind of hard to describe fusion of flavors…and a lingering of a sweet and spicy after taste that you would want to hold on to.
Ever since I had started making harissa with pumpkins and butternut squash, I had been planning to incorporated the coconut milk in it, to mellow down the heat, to make the bold and bright a bit more graceful and seamless. Finally when I was to cook when a friend was visiting I thought this was my chance.
Every time I have to cook for company, I end up making something new. Something I have never cooked before. Perhaps the boredom sets in with the cooking the same recipes over and over again. And I have been observing that I have cooked most of the “first tried out” recipes when I have had company. It is taking a risk, for I know not what will happen, but the challenge gives me the energy.
Well, I cannot seem to get a single word out for this post today, let alone a full sentence or description. I will call the month of May, the month of insanity. We are all overwhelmed with the things happening right now, barely able to catch a breath through the day. Recitals, field trips, tests, events, hours at school and good weather. Yes good weather; the kind that forces you to spend as much time outside as the daylight allows.
All I can say is this was pretty good. The flavors of harissa did not diminish with the coconut milk. Yet the dish lightened to some extent and mellowed. It got even better the next day. The mint infused, imparting a strong but fresh flavor.
On my garden update, I have finished planting my herb patch, redolent of all things calming as the gentle breeze fills the air. Thai Basil, Sweet Basil, Golden Lemon Thyme, Mint, Lemon Balm, Oregano and Rosemary.
Now to sit out with a book and relish it all!
Butternut Squash with Harissa and Coconut Milk
Ingredients: (serves 4-6 as side)
- 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed (about 4-5 cups cubed approximately) **
- 2 tablespoon oil
- 1/4 cup harissa or adjust amount to taste and spice tolerance level
- 3/4 inch fresh ginger, peeled and julienned – divided
- salt to taste
- 1/2 cup cream of coconut + 1/2 cup light coconut milk (of all light coconut milk, if you want a lighter version)
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- few tablespoons of fresh mint leaves, julienned
**Note: yellow pumpkin can be used to substitute butternut squash
Peel and cube butternut squash. Wash and pat dry.
Combine cream of coconut and coconut milk along with sugar and set aside.
Heat oil in a pan. Add half the julienned ginger and stir fry for about half a minute and then add the cubed squash. Add salt and cook them at high heat until the outside of the cubes are coated with the oil and they just start to turn brown at the corners. Add the harissa and toss and cook again at medium heat until all the harissa has coated the cubes. About 2 -3 minutes.
Now add the coconut milk/cream and fresh mint leaves, stir and bring it to a simmer. Cover partially and cook until the butternut squash softens and there is still some liquid left in the pan. Now add the rest of the julienned ginger and stir them in. Finish off with fresh mint leaves.
Serve with rice or flat bread.
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: Less than 30 minutes
Difficulty Level: Easy
Serves: 4-6 as side
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