Spicy Squash Stew

This is not really a curry, and it's not really a chili. It's a kind of in between, and one of my favorites. Serve with rice, an assortment of chutneys, roasted nuts, and sour cream on the side.

3/4 cup almonds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 tablespoon canola oil
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 medium butternut squash, (about 1 pound), peeled & cut in 1/2- inch cubes
2 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup water
2 cups cauliflower florets
2 cups fresh or frozen green peas
2 tablespoons tamari
Freshly ground pepper

Serves 4 to 6

In a dry skillet, toast the almonds over medium heat for 5 minutes, until lightly browned. Set aside and use the same pan to toast the sesame seeds. Keep tossing the pan to prevent them from burning. In a food processor, grind the almonds and sesame seeds to a coarse powder.

Heat the oil in a heavy bottom pot or large wok. Saute the garlic and onion over high heat for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently. When the onions begin to look translucent, stir in the squash, mushrooms, cumin, oregano, chili powder, and red pepper flakes. Continue to cook over medium high heat for 5 minutes. If the vegetables begin to stick to the pan, add 1 tablespoon of water.

Add the tomatoes and just enough water to cover all the ingredients. Partially cover with a lid and simmer until the squash is soft, about 20 minutes. Taste to adjust the chili and hot pepper seasoning. If more is needed, add it now. While the vegetables are simmering, check every so often to make sure there is enough liquid covering the vegetables. If not, add more water.

When the squash is soft, stir in the ground almonds, sesame seeds, and the cauliflower. Partially cover with a lid and simmer for 10 minutes, until the cauliflower is soft. Stir in the peas and cook for 1 minute. When they turn bright green, immediately remove from the heat. Season with tamari znd freshly ground pepper, and serve.

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