Rasta Pasta is a dish we created from the vegetables on our island of St. Kitts. Pumpkin (here we use butternut squash), tomatoes, lentils, and onions, all joined together by sweet creamy coconut milk. We put it on curly noodles to honor the dreadlocks of our Rasta friends. This is typical of Caribbean cooking -- even though the list of ingredients is a bit long, everything is cooked in one pot so it's easy -- and the flavors are amazingly delicious!
1 tablespoon Unflavored, Butter or Cayenne Olive Oil
1 medium-large onion, halved and then sliced
1 scotch bonnet pepper, pierced in the side with a knife*
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoon gingerroot, minced
1 can coconut milk (if using A Tasta of Thai brand, use the lite version because its regular version is too oily; other brands are fine)
1 can diced tomatoes
2 ½ cups butternut squash or Calabasa pumpkin, cut in 1/2 inch cube
¼ cup lentils
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sour orange or lemon juice
1 lb. corkscrew or spiral pasta noodles
Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or other pot. Add the onion and sauté until translucent. Add the pepper, garlic and ginger, sauté for 2 minutes longer.
Add the coconut milk, tomatoes, pumpkin, lentils and spices. Simmer for 30 minutes, with the lid on, but slightly ajar or until the lentils are cooked through and the pumpkin is tender. Remove from the heat. Add the lemon juice.
During the last 15 minutes of cooking, prepare the pasta in another pot according to package directions. Drain the pasta. Serve the sauce over the pasta. If you have leftovers, just mix everything together.
* In the Caribbean, cooks control the heat in dishes by stabbing a hot pepper in the side and dropping it in the pot. They periodically taste the stew to see when it's spicy enough and then remove the pepper. In this dish, I leave it in until the end and then remove it before anyone bites into it by accident, but you can remove it sooner if you like.