There's nothing cozier than this easy vegan butternut squash curry with hearty Brussels sprouts and protein-packed lentils. This Indian-inspired coconut curry is also a delicious, make-ahead lunch or dinner recipe for meal prep!
Coconut curry is basically the answer to any occasion when you're craving a meal that's warm, spicy, comforting, and nutritious. There's something about veggies simmered in a creamy, coconut-based sauce with allllll of the spices. It just doesn't get any better.
Balanced with carbs, fat, fiber, and one of the 8 top sources of plant-based protein (lentils), this butternut squash curry has the power to make me feel equally satisfied and energized.
This recipe is one of my favorite Indian-inspired dinners to make at home, and the best part is that you can enjoy the leftovers all over again for lunch the next day.
- 1 medium butternut squash
- Brussels sprouts (about 12)
- Ginger (fresh)
- Lentils (dry)
- 1 (13.66-ounce) can coconut milk (I prefer full-fat but lite coconut milk also works)
- Grapeseed oil (or whatever cooking oil you like to use at home)
- Spices: ground cumin, ground coriander, ground turmeric, ground fenugreek, ground cinnamon, cayenne pepper
Optional for serving:
- Brown basmati rice
- Fresh mint
- Fresh cilantro
Roast the butternut squash:
To prepare the butternut squash, first, slice it in half lengthwise. Then use a spoon to scrape out the seeds and stringy parts attached to the flesh.
Place the halves skin-side down on a rimmed baking sheet. Then brush each piece with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Place the baking sheet in a 450-degree oven and roast for about 60 minutes, pausing halfway through to rotate the baking sheet. After about an hour, the squash will be tender and brown in places.
The squash will be piping hot when it comes out of the oven, so allow it to cool for a few minutes. Once you're able to handle it comfortably, use a spoon to peel the flesh from the skin. Transfer the cooked squash to your blender container.
Once you have all of the cooked squash (it should be roughly two and a half cups) in the blender, add in the coconut milk, lime juice, and spices.
Cover and blend until a thick and creamy, velvety smooth sauce appears. Feel free to give the sauce a taste and adjust the salt or spices if needed.
If the curry sauce seems too thick or it's not blending well, add in a little more coconut milk or water and blend again.
Cook the Lentils:
While the squash is roasting in the oven, you have enough time to cook the lentils and the Brussels sprouts on the stovetop. I like to use the same 12-inch skillet with a lid for both so there are fewer dirty dishes.
First, pour the dry lentils into the pan. Cover with water and add a little salt. Bring the liquid to a boil and then reduce the heat and cook until the lentils are the right consistency.
Drain any excess water and transfer the cooked lentils to a bowl or dish while you cook the Brussels sprouts.
Cook the Brussels Sprouts:
To prep the Brussels sprouts, wash and slice each sprout into thin strips, about ⅛-inch thick. You can also sometimes find pre-shredded Brussels sprouts in the produce section at the grocery store if you want to skip this step.
You will also need to slice a shallot and grate ginger for this step.
To cook the vegetables, preheat the skillet over medium heat and, once hot, pour in enough oil to coat the pan. Stir in the sliced shallot and grated ginger and cook just until they are aromatic. Then stir in the shaved Brussels sprouts and cook until they are tender.
Once the sprouts are tender, add the cooked lentils back into the pan and stir in the butternut squash curry sauce from the blender. Stir everything together until the lentils and Brussels sprouts are evenly coated in sauce.
Keep the curry warm by simmering it over low heat on the stovetop until you're ready to eat. If the curry cooks down and becomes too thick, stir in a little water until it reaches your desired consistency.
I like to serve this Roasted Butternut Squash Curry with brown basmati rice, but you could also swap in another type of rice or a different grain altogether. You could also eat this with riced cauliflower.
The final touch is a handful of torn fresh herbs. Mint and cilantro are used often in Indian cuisine, but you can also use basil or parsley if that's what you already have in your kitchen.
Whole versus Ground Spices
Many traditional Indian recipes utilize whole spices for the most flavorful curry sauce. For convenience, I used ground spices in this butternut squash curry.
Feel free to grind the whole spices needed for this recipe (cumin seeds, coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds, and cinnamon sticks) in a dedicated coffee grinder before you prep the curry sauce if you'd like. The result will be well worth the extra couple of minutes!
How to Substitute Cubed Butternut Squash
I roasted whole butternut squash to make this recipe, but you can also use pre-cubed squash if you want to save a little time (or that's what you already have on hand). One medium butternut squash yields about two and a half cups of cubed squash, so just measure out roughly this amount in preparation for this recipe.
To roast, first toss the squash cubes with oil, salt, and pepper. Spread them evenly on a baking sheet, and roast for about 25 minutes, or until they're tender and cooked all the way through.
You can use fresh or frozen cubed squash in this way.
More Ingredient Substitutions
- Substitute mashed sweet potatoes or canned pumpkin for the butternut squash (add about 2 ½ cups of either directly to the blender when you make the sauce)
- Use canned chickpeas instead of lentils (add the chickpeas to the skillet at the same time as the Brussels sprouts). You can also use dry chickpeas, just cook them fully in advance.
- If you don't have Brussels sprouts, try substituting another green vegetable, such as kale, spinach, cabbage, or collard greens.
- Substitute ¼ cup diced onion for the shallot if desired.
Butternut squash curry is a wonderful vegan lunch or dinner to make in advance for meal prep. There are a couple of different ways to cook this recipe ahead of time.
Of course, you can make the whole recipe in its entirety and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about a week or the freezer for up to three months.
If you just want to get a little bit ahead of the dinner game, you can also prep some of the components of the recipe ahead of time. For example, roast the squash and blend together the sauce a day or two ahead. Or, cook a large batch of lentils and brown basmati rice so they're always ready to go in the fridge or freezer when you need them.
Recipes to Serve With
- Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Lentil Dip
- Lemon Tahini Apple Slaw
- One-Pot Yellow Split Pea Soup
- Cauliflower Curry Soup with Vegan Herb Yogurt Sauce
- Herb Rice with Sweet Potato
- 1 medium butternut squash, cut in half lengthwise and seeded (see note 1)
- 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil or cooking oil of choice
- Salt and pepper
- 1 (13.66-ounce) can coconut milk (see note 2)
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- ½ teaspoon ground fenugreek
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste (optional)
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 cup dry lentils
- 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil or cooking oil of choice
- 1 medium shallot, sliced
- 1- inch piece ginger, grated
- 2 cups thinly sliced Brussels sprouts (about 12)
- 2 cups cooked brown basmati rice
- Fresh mint
Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and place butternut squash halves skin-side down on a rimmed baking sheet. Brush with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place baking sheet on the center rack of the oven and roast 60 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through, or until squash is tender and beginning to brown in places. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow the squash to cool.
Once the butternut squash is cool enough to handle, use a spoon to peel the flesh from the skin. Transfer the cooked squash to a blender container.
Add coconut milk, cumin, coriander, turmeric, fenugreek, cinnamon, cayenne pepper (if using), and lime juice to the blender container. Cover and blend on high for 1 minute, or until the mixture is thick and creamy. Set aside.
In the meantime, pour dry lentils into a 12-inch skillet with a lid. Cover the lentils with water and add salt if desired. Put the lid on the skillet, bring the liquid to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook 15 minutes, or until lentils are tender (cook longer if you prefer softer lentils). Drain any excess water if needed, and transfer the cooked lentils to a bowl or plate and set aside.
Heat 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil (or as needed to coat the skillet) over medium heat. Stir in shallot and ginger and cook 2 minutes, stirring often, or until the shallot is translucent.
Stir in Brussels sprouts and cook 6 minutes, stirring halfway through, or until tender.
Add cooked lentils back into the skillet with the cooked Brussels sprouts. Stir in the cooked butternut squash sauce from the blender. Stir until the lentils and Brussels sprouts are evenly coated in sauce.
Keep curry warm over low heat, stirring occasionally, until ready to serve. If the curry cooks down and becomes too thick, stir in water until desired consistency is reached.
Serve butternut squash curry over cooked brown basmati rice and garnish with fresh mint and cilantro if desired.
1. 1 medium butternut squash yields 2 ½ cups cubed squash. To substitute cubed squash for whole squash, toss the pieces with oil, salt, and pepper, spread on a baking sheet, and roast 25 minutes, or until tender.
2. I prefer full-fat coconut milk for this recipe, but lite coconut milk also works. Sauce with lite coconut milk will be slightly thinner and less creamy.
Meal Prep and Storage: Store butternut squash curry in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to one week or freeze for up to three months.
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