Pumpkin & Shrimp Curry

You might not believe me, but this recipe was created on a night when I was playing "What's in my pantry?". Cans of pumpkin (leftover from Thanksgiving), chick peas, coconut milk, crushed tomatoes, a bag of rice and a box of chicken broth were in my pantry. Frozen shrimp were in my freezer, and I've always got some kind of squash or potato sitting on my counter this time of year. It was all there, waiting to be made into this delicious curry, in the middle of a polar vortex here in Chicago. 

After a little recipe research, I found a simple curry recipe on Bon Appétit for Pumpkin Shrimp Curry. A few modifications later, and we had a meal on the table. 

The recipe isn't very challenging, but takes a few steps and some time to complete everything. You could substitute the acorn squash with any squash, yam or sweet potato you have on hand or is in season. I highly recommend making the crispy shallots to top this off with... it's so good!

Pumpkin & Shrimp Curry
makes at least 4 servings

1 acorn squash
1 yellow onion (diced)
2 tbsp fresh ginger (minced)
4 cloves garlic (minced)
15 oz can pumpkin puree
1 cup crushed tomatoes
1 cup coconut milk
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 tbsp hot curry powder
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1 lb peeled & deveined shrimp (if frozen, thaw first)
1 lime (juice)
salt and pepper
olive oil

for serving
fried shallots (or crispy onions from the grocery)
white rice
lime wedges

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut acorn squash in half and remove seeds. Slather in olive oil and salt. Pop onto a baking sheet and into the oven for 25 minutes. Remove, let cool and cut into bite size cubes. Leave the skin on! You can eat it and it's packed with nutrients, plus it gives the curry some extra color.

As the squash bakes, get the rest of the curry started. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat a couple tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and ginger and let cook for 7-8 minutes, until soft. Add the garlic, a pinch of salt and pepper and let cook for 1 additional minute. 

Now add the pumpkin puree and crushed tomato with a pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer and stir pretty consistently for 10 minutes. You don't want the pumpkin to burn to the bottom of the pan. 

Add in the coconut milk (it's okay if it's lumpy, it'll combine), chicken broth, curry powder, cayenne, salt and pepper. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Let the sauce simmer away for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. You may need to turn the heat down to low to keep it from full blown boiling out of control. 

After 20-30 minutes of simmering, add in the cubed acorn squash, shrimp and the juice of 1 lime. Let everything heat up, still over low heat, for 3-5 minutes. 

For serving (make this while the curry simmers):
Make the rice. Combine 1 cup white basmati or jasmine rice with 2 cups water or chicken broth. I like to add dried onion and garlic powder to the rice, as well as a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and let simmer for 18-20 minutes. Turn off and keep covered until ready to serve.

Make the crispy shallots. Slice shallot into thin rings and toss with flour. In a saute pan, heat canola oil over medium heat. When hot, add the shallots and let them fry for about 3 minutes, keeping a close eye to not let burn. Use tongs to move them around and turn over as necessary. Remove to a paper town and immediately sprinkle with salt.

Serve the curry with rice, crispy shallots and fresh squeeze of lime juice!

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