When I had refractive surgery, a.k.a. LASIK, performed on my eyes, my doctor told me to sleep all day while recovering. Set an alarm for every two hours to take my eyedrops, he warned, but otherwise, I had to rest all day. So that's what I did. Every two hours, I would wake up, put a cocktail of medicated eye drops in my eyes, drink some water and maybe get a bite of something to eat and head back to bed to do it all again in another two hours. In order to keep myself relaxed and sleepy, I also had to take Valium and some sleeping pills, rendering the entire day kind of fuzzy—and not just because of my blurred, post-surgical vision.
Because I'm not such a great planner, I didn't have any food prepared for this fuzzy time in my life. At one point between sleeps, and independently of my consciousness, my very high brain decided I needed to make a curry. Not just any curry, of course. I needed to add roasted butternut squash to it. In my sleepy stupor, I decided to roast that squash in the oven on low for the two hours it would take me to sleep and wake up next. Meanwhile on the stove top, my barely-waking brain also managed to cook up a red curry. I set my alarm for two hours and went back to bed.
When I woke up, I had a beautiful vegetarian red curry all ready to go. Four amazing things happened from there: (1) I had the foresight to make it sans meat, as a good friend who happens to be a vegetarian was sick and I wanted to send some her way the next day; (2) when I woke up the next day, I had zero recollection of making this complicated dish; (3) I somehow managed to get my entire kitchen clean in my Valium-induced stupor, including all the dishes; and (4) I didn't burn down my house. I call this masterpiece Sleep Curry, and you can make it yourself whether you're feeling fuzzy or not.
- 1 large shallot, finely chopped
- 6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1-inch piece of ginger, grated
- 3 T. vegetable oil
- 2 T. red curry paste
- 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes
- 13.5 oz. can of coconut milk
- 1/2 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
- 1/2 lb. carrots, peeled and chopped
- 1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
- Cooked rice or noodles
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. Toss butternut squash with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and season with salt/pepper in a large bowl. Arrange on baking sheet and roast for 2 hours.
- Heat remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots, garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, until golden brown. Add curry paste; cook, stirring, until paste is darkened in color and mixture starts to stick to pan. Add tomatoes. Cook, stirring often and scraping up browned bits, until tomatoes start to break down and stick to pot.
- Stir in coconut milk and season with salt. Add sweet potatoes and carrots and pour in enough water to cover. Bring to a simmer and cook on low, until vegetables are tender, about 1.5 hours. Stir in roasted butternut squash when finished. Spoon curry over rice or noodles and serve.
You can make chicken, fish or tofu on the side if you want add protein to this sleep curry. And, of course, all this can be sped up to take much less time if you don't cook everything on low for two hours. And in my sobriety, I realize that the butternut squash can be cooked in the saucepan along with the sweet potatoes and carrots instead of roasted. Hindsight and all that, but I never would have created Sleep Curry with something as important as planning.