Thrifty Chicks: Stretch two ingredients into two healthy, thrifty meals
Oct 27, 2013 | 2129 views |  0 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Special to The Star
Special to The Star
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The Thrifty Chicks have been living life on the run, and things are crazy to say the least. We’ve been cooking sporadically these days and we mean sporadically — you would not believe how often we have eaten out! Seriously, we have been all Operation Do Worse instead of Operation Do Better. While it’s not impacting our budget so much, we are concerned it might be impacting our health. So at first opportunity we made some “kitchen alchemy,” as Reese likes to call it. We’ve been kind of stumped for ideas, but have vowed to stay out of the grocery store and eat what we have on hand.

Meal #1: Butternut squash and sweet potato curry

There has been a butternut squash sitting in our kitchen silently mocking us (what, your vegetables don’t mock you?) each time we grab something out of the bowl where we keep our vegetables. What, oh what, to do with the butternut? Did we want soup? A casserole? Roasted veggies?

Turns out we didn’t want any of those things. Instead we decided on curry, and boy were we glad we did. We love Indian food and make and eat Chana masala and even get our Tandoori on from time to time. I found a fairly simple recipe for butternut squash and sweet potato curry. Ding, ding — we have a winner!

The spicy curry powder in this dish was a nice foil to the sweetness of the butternut squash, sweet potatoes and sweet onions used in the dish.

All you need are things you might have handy in your pantry: mustard seeds, curry powder of choice, coconut milk and veggie broth. I’m not going to lie, I didn’t follow the recipe very closely, but it still turned out great. Here’s what I did:

Sauté the mustard seeds, but be careful they start to pop when they get hot. To avoid popping I tried to keep the heat at a medium flame and essentially put the chopped onion in half a second after stirring the seeds just enough to get them coated with oil. Once your onions become a bit translucent, add in the curry powder. I only used a teaspoon to begin because Reese said the particular curry powder I chose was rather spicy. Coat the onions in the curry powder — your house should smell amazing at this point. Then dump in your chopped butternut squash and sweet potatoes.

I sautéed the butternut squash and sweet potatoes much the same way I do when I make home fries, allowing the sugars from the veggies to caramelize and covering it with a lid to allow the steam to sweat the veggies at the same time. At this point, I also sprinkled some sea salt over the mixture. To help the veggies cook down enough to get tender, I added a little organic veggie broth. Don’t overcook your veggies, or they’ll be mushy. I threw in a handful of curry powder with much less spice and then another teaspoon of the spicy curry. If you don’t like spice quite as much as us, skip this step. I added a half can of coconut milk, stirred to incorporate, allowed it all another few seconds to heat through and violá — butternut squash and sweet potato curry. Serve with some brown basmati, or jasmine rice and red wine.

Meal #2: Roasted butternut squash and sweet potato side dish

It’s that time of the year when Mother Nature’s bounty runneth over, and that was the case with the good-sized butternut squash and gigantic sweet potatoes that started this whole thing. After chopping up both the squash and potatoes, I was overwhelmed by how much we had. Reese suggested that we curry half and roast the rest. She whipped out some traditional spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cumin and olive oil. She tossed the veggies in the oil then got her sprinkle fairy on and popped them in the oven until they were fork tender. Served as a side dish to baked fish, sautéed Swiss chard and our Crock-Pot black beans and you have an easy and colorful dinner. If you don’t want to serve it as a side, try throwing the roasted veggies in a black bean and corn soup, with a can of tomatoes, onions and some vegetable broth.

I promise you won’t regret it.
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