Butternut Squash in Fresh Green Curry (Serves 4 to 6)

- 1 small butternut suqash, 1 pounds

- 2 tablespoons coarsley chopped shallots or yellow onion

- 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped garlic

- 1 tablespoon peeled and coarsely chopped fresh ginger

- 2 fresh green jalapeno chilies or 1 fresh green serrano chili

- 3 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup water

- 3/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves and stems

- 1 can (14 ounces) unsweetened coconut milk

- 1 teaspoon sugar

- 1 teaspoon salt

- 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves

(1)   Trim off the stem and halve lengthwise and scoop out and discard the seeds and fibers. Cut into large chunks and carefully peel each chunk. Cut the peeled chunks into 1-inch pieces. You will have about 4 cups. Set aside.

(2)   In a food processor or the jar of a blender, combine the shallots or onion, garlic, ginger, chilies, the 3 tablespoons water, and 1/2 cup of the cilantro. Grind until you have a fairly smooth paste, pulsing the motor and stopping often to stir down the sides of the container and incorporate all the ingredients. You will have about 1/4 cup bright green paste. Set aside.

(3)   Shake the 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 it thickens and releases its sweet fragrance, about 3 minutes.

(4)   Add the curry paste and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, mashing, scraping, and stirring until the paste is dissolved into the coconut milk and is heated through. Add the remaining coconut milk, the remaining 1/2 cup water, the sugar, salt, and butternut squash. Raise the heat to high and bring the curry to a rolling boil. Stir well, reduce the heat to maintain a gentle boil, and continue cooking until the squash is tender and the 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 the curry is cooked, stir in the basil strips and the remaining 1/4 cup cilantro. Remove from the heat and transfer to a serving bowl. Garnish with the reserved basil leaves and serve hot or warm.