Fall, with its bountiful harvest and cool temperatures perfect for baking and simmering, is the ideal season for cooking. Unfortunately, fall is also the season packed with soccer practices, school volunteering, PTA meetings, meetings to train volunteers ...
Every parent I know has some variation of this life. Over Labor Day weekend, a friend of mine who lives just half an hour away told me, "I guess I'll see you after the holidays."
Makes me want to just order out for dinner for the next few months. Which wouldn't be too hard, considering the local restaurant row could provide me with a different cuisine for each night of the week. Recently, two interesting new eateries have opened up in my neighborhood. The first is a Burmese restaurant. Burmese food is a little like Thai food, a little like Indian food, and then something altogether its own. The menu offers samosas, tea leaf salad, and several curry dishes -- the most interesting of which is the pumpkin and beef curry.
The other new restaurant of note is more of a cafe, specializing in soup, salad and savory pies. Their "pies" are hand-held like turnovers, similar to a British pastie or a Mexican empanada. Fillings include ratatouille, spiced Halal beef, wild mushroom and not one but two types of chicken curry: chicken and apples with yellow curry, and chicken and yams with red curry. I took my notoriously picky 8-year-old to this cafe for lunch, and he actually ate (and liked) the chicken and yam curry pie.
I could totally re-create this pie at home! After all, curry has long been one of my son's favorite flavors. It's been my standard practice to add some puréed butternut squash as a hidden nutritional boost, so why couldn't I put all those ingredients into my own kind of pumpkin pie?
Pumpkin Curry Chicken Pot Pie
Serves 4-6 as a main course
This recipe includes several "shortcut" components (remember the part about fall being my busiest season?) to make it a slightly ambitious, yet realistic, weeknight family dinner. It may be more Rachael Ray than Julia Child, but hey -- at least it's not Ronald McDonald!
- 2 ready-made pie crusts, thawed (Trader Joe's makes a good one)
- ½ yellow onion, diced
- 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut in 1-inch pieces
- 1-2 tablespoons red curry paste (available in Asian markets or in your grocery)
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- 1 cup coconut milk (I don't recommend low-fat, as it may make the filling too runny)
- juice of ½ lime
- ½ cup puréed pumpkin
- 1 cup raw pumpkin or butternut squash, cut in ½-inch cubes*
- Vegetable oil, as needed
- Optional: handful of frozen peas, diced carrots, diced potatoes or garbanzo beans
- Preheat oven to 375°.
- Sauté the onion in a small amount of oil, until translucent and a little caramelized.
- Push the onions to a side, turn up the heat, and add chicken. Let the chicken brown, then add curry paste, coconut milk, fish sauce and lime juice. Stir in the puréed pumpkin, turn the heat down and simmer until chicken is tender. Turn off heat and mix in raw pumpkin cubes.
- Press the bottom crust into a pie pan, and pour filling into the prepared crust. Place the top crust over the chicken mixture, crimp the edges and prick holes in the top.
- Bake in 375° oven for 45 minutes.
- Let cool and serve in slices, topped with a dollop of nonfat yogurt, if desired.