Recipe: Butternut Squash in Fresh Green Curry

published Oct 12, 2015
Butternut Squash in Fresh Green Curry
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(Image credit: Melissa Ryan)

This simple fresh curry paste takes only minutes to prepare. It envelops sweet, golden chunks of butternut squash with a beautiful and savory green sauce in the time it takes the accompanying rice to cook. Try making it with any prepared curry paste for an even simpler dish.

(Image credit: Melissa Ryan)

Blending shallots, garlic, ginger, green chiles, and cilantro together produces a wonderfully fresh and vibrant curry. Make extra of this paste and stash in the freezer to pave the way for future easy weeknight meals.

Serve this meal with:

Tester’s Notes

I loved how the sweet butternut squash plays well with the spicy curry and coconut milk sauce, and was actually amazed this was vegan. I would actually recommend doubling this recipe since the leftovers make for a great lunch!

While Thai basil would be preferable in this curry, regular Italian basil would be a great substitute. You can also use light coconut milk if you choose; I did so with wonderful results.

Christine, October 2015

Butternut Squash in Fresh Green Curry

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info


  • 1

    small butternut squash, about 1 1/2 pounds (see Recipe Notes)

  • 2 tablespoons

    coarsely chopped shallot or onion

  • 1 tablespoon

    coarsely chopped garlic

  • 1 teaspoon

    coarsely chopped, peeled fresh ginger root

  • 2

    fresh green jalapeños, or 1 fresh green serrano chile (see Recipe Notes)

  • 3/4 cup

    coarsely chopped cilantro leaves and stems, divided

  • 1

    (14-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk (about 1 3/4 cups), divided

  • 1 teaspoon

    granulated sugar

  • 1 teaspoon


  • 1/4 cup

    fresh basil leaves


  1. Trim off stem and blossom end of butternut squash. Halve lengthwise and scoop out and discard seeds and fibers. Cut into large chunks and carefully peel each chunk. Cut peeled chunks into 1-inch pieces; you will have about 4 cups. Set aside.

  2. In a mini food processor or blender, combine shallot, garlic, ginger, chiles, 3 tablespoons water, and 1/2 cup of the cilantro and grind, pulsing and stopping often to scrape sides of container, until a fairly smooth paste forms. You will have about 1/4 cup bright green paste. Set aside.

  3. Shake coconut milk can well. Spoon out 1/2 cup into a medium saucepan and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened and fragrant, about 3 minutes.

  4. Add curry paste and cook, mashing and stirring until paste is dissolved into coconut milk and heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Add remaining coconut milk, 1/2 cup water, sugar, salt, and butternut squash. Increase heat to high and bring curry to a rolling boil. Stir well, reduce heat to maintain a gentle boil, and continue cooking until squash is tender and sauce is smooth and evenly colored a soothing green, about 15 minutes.

  5. Meanwhile, cut all but a few of the basil leaves crosswise into thin strips. When curry is cooked, stir in basil strips and the remaining 1/4 cup of cilantro. Remove from heat and transfer to a serving bowl. Garnish with the reserved basil leaves and serve hot or warm.

Recipe Notes

Butternut squash (and other hard winter squash) is a challenge to peel. Use a chef’s knife or a Chinese cleaver if you are handy with either one of these tools, or use a good paring knife, holding each chunk steady on your cutting board and cutting down along its side to remove the peel.

For a supermarket shortcut, buy peeled, seeded, and chopped butternut squash in the produce section. You could also use sweet potatoes or white or red potatoes in place of the squash, peeling them and chopping them into 1 1/2-inch chunks.

To substitute prepared curry paste, omit the shallot or onion, garlic, ginger, chile peppers, water and cilantro and begin by cooking 2 tablespoons prepared curry paste in the 1/2 cup coconut milk.

This recipe makes a moderately hot curry. If you like your curries very hot, increase the amount of fresh chiles to suit your palate.

Reprinted with permission from Simply Vegetarian Thai Cooking: 125 Real Thai Recipes by Nancie McDermott, copyright (c) 2015. Published by Robert Rose.

(Image credit: Nancie McDermott)

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