Ode to Pumpkin

Yesterday there were pumpkins perched on an overwhelming number of neighborhood doorsteps. Some smiling, some elaborately tattooed; many lit, others simply naked orbs glowing in their moment of glory. So begins the celebration of the pumpkin, with two autumn holidays built around its face and flavor. But it's a shame that the icon of the season has fallen into a routine; much too comfortable with its role as a Halloween jack-o-lantern and Thanksgiving pie. Pumpkin inevitably shines in these roles, but it is a much more versatile ingredient than we tend to give it credit for.

Looking for a way to push pumpkin out of its comfort zone, I felt compelled to try a recipe for Pumpkin Shrimp Curry from Bon Appetit. An odd couple -- pumpkin and shrimp -- marry under a blanket of curry, with a kick of cayenne emerging from the depths and a kiss of fresh cilantro crowning the top. It is an unusual, seasonal twist on an Indian classic, and, served over couscous or rice, a comfort dish that continues to satisfy bowl after bowl...

[Adapted from Bon Appetit]

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup vidalia onion, sliced
1 Tbsp minced ginger
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 plum tomato, chopped
1 15-ounce can pumpkin purée
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup coconut milk
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup butternut squash, roasted and diced
1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 1/2 tsp fresh lime juice
1 cup couscous
1 1/4 cups water or chicken stock
cilantro, for garnish

 1. Preheat oven or toaster oven to 450. Spread 1 cup of butternut squash (approximately 1/2 inch cubes) onto a baking sheet. Roast for about 20 minutes until browned and soft.
 2. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and ginger; sauté until soft and fragrant, about 8 minutes. Add garlic; cook for 1 minute, stirring often.
 3. Add tomato and pumpkin purée; cook until pumpkin is golden brown, about 10 minutes (stir frequently).
 4. Add vegetable broth, coconut milk, curry powder, and cayenne pepper; simmer for 20 minutes.
 5. Add roasted butternut squash, shrimp, and lime juice. Simmer until shrimp are cooked and squash is warm.
 6. Serve on top of couscous (or rice) and garnish with fresh cilantro.

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