Kabocha Curry with Spinach, Chickpeas, & Farro

Kabocha Curry with Spinach, Chickpeas, & Farro

Friends. I have things I want to tell you about. Big things. So major that I’ve been staring at these photos for over a week, unable to find common ground between all the news I want to share and this unexciting (albeit delicious) bowl of curry. And that’s why half my news will have to wait. Until I make a cake. One that may involve booze and pink frosting.

The other half, I’ll share now.

Kabocha Curry with Spinach, Chickpeas, & Farro

I quit my job. Not just a job. THE job. The job I landed right out of college. The job I pretty much learned to do on the fly (we all lie on our résumés, riiight?), then strove to succeed at with the tenacity of a bright-eyed, obsessive, twentysomething perfectionist. The job that, up until last Friday at 5:00pm, I’d held for 9 years, 2 months, and 24 days. Wow.

To explain all the reasons for my departure would take far too long (and one of them must remain secret until I make my fancy cake!). But back in October of 2012, while out enjoying a drink with my then-boyfriend and chatting about life and goals and all that other talk that goes well with beer, I declared that I would not spend 10 years at my job. Maybe I was tired of listening to myself complain about work and not doing anything about it. Maybe it was turning 30 that did it. (30 hit me hard, you guys. I never thought it would, so the surprise made it extra tough. 31 has been infinitely better. [My friend Z hypothesized that it’s Saturn’s return. Hurray Saturn!]) Regardless, by the end of that beer, I’d set a goal for myself, and that goal was to give notice at my job by the end of next year. And holy cow, guys, I actually freaking did it. BAM.

Kabocha Curry with Spinach, Chickpeas, & Farro

Kabocha Curry with Spinach, Chickpeas, & Farro

So yeah, my life is all sorts of topsy-turvy at the moment, but in a good, exciting way. I honestly can’t wait to adjust to my new normal, and to actually once again have time to read and comment on blog posts, and respond to emails (omg so many emails — if you’ve emailed me over the course of the past few months and I haven’t written back, I am SO sorry).

With all the craziness (and wintery-ness!) of the past few months, I find myself craving warm, hearty bowls of veggies and healthy stuff 24/7. (Also: cookies and brownies, ’cause we Libras need balance, ya know? In the past 48 hours, I made these and these. YUM CITY.) So it’s no surprise that last Wednesday, while at the height of OMFG-last-week-on-the-job panic/elation, I decided to make a giant batch of this curry.

Kabocha Curry with Spinach, Chickpeas, & Farro

Kabocha Curry with Spinach, Chickpeas, & Farro

I make curries the way a lot of people make chili. If it doesn’t require the biggest container I’ve got and can’t feed me for several days, I feel like I’ve failed. This kabocha curry has been a favorite of mine this winter, and I’ve made it countless times so far with whatever I happen to have in the pantry/fridge. I kept this batch simple with baby spinach and chickpeas, and served it all over farro, which contributes a great texture and a yummy, slightly hearty flavor. The whole thing comes together quite easily, and makes for some wonderful winter comfort food.

Kabocha Curry with Spinach, Chickpeas, & Farro

Kabocha Curry with Spinach, Chickpeas, & Farro

(adapted from Pinch of Yum)

5 cups of peeled and cubed kabocha squash

1 large yellow onion, diced

1 tbsp butter

1 3/4 cups vegetable broth

2 tbsp red curry paste

1 tbsp tomato paste

2 tsp curry powder

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 tsp salt

1 cup coconut milk

5 cups baby spinach

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tbsp olive oil

2 cups of cooked chickpeas

1 cup of farro

2 cups of water

Heat butter in a large skillet and saute onion until translucent. Add squash and vegetable stock, cover, and let simmer for 10–15 minutes, or until the squash is tender. Transfer to a blender, add the curry paste, tomato paste, curry powder, turmeric, salt, and coconut milk and puree until smooth.

Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add farro and cover. Reduce heat and let simmer until all the water has been absorbed.

While the farro is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the garlic and saute until aromatic, then add the spinach and chickpeas. Cover for a minute to let the spinach steam slightly, then remove the cover and saute until the spinach has wilted.

Top farro with curry and the spinach and chickpeas. (Or mix it all up in a big container, store it in the fridge, and enjoy for several days.)

Kabocha Curry with Spinach, Chickpeas, & Farro

Kabocha Curry with Spinach, Chickpeas, & Farro


  1. says

    Ha! I know how liberating it can be to be really able to leave a job we love. I say I know because I did the same last week. After 13+ years of being in the midst of Corporate America, I decided to take a break. Enjoy the new normal.

    The curry sounds fabulous. Your photos are stunning.

  2. says

    Congratulations on taking such a brave step! Change can be hard, but it sounds like you have some amazingly exciting things happening, which I’m sure will make things easier. All the best for the future :D

    As for this curry, it looks absolutely beautiful. Your photos are so inspiring.

    • says

      Thank you, Jennifer! Change has always been a tough thing for me, but I’m so glad I took this step (and had a couple things pushing me to do it). I know it’s much better for me. :)

  3. says

    Well done you, I can imagine that was a HUGE thing to leave your job. But now you have the space to create and let these amazing new opportunities come to you. I can’t wait to hear the other half of the big news. I will pin this curry recipe for our winter down under :)

    • says

      Thanks, Nicola! Oh goodness, it felt like the biggest deal, and I stressed over it for pretty much an entire month. And then I finally just did it, and it was such a relief. :)

    • says

      Thank you, Ana!

      I really went all out with the fancy bowls in this post. ;) The pale blueish-grey bowls with the dark brown rims were actually dug out of some cabinets at my parents’ place just a couple weekends ago. They’re decades old at this point, but they were made by Anne Meyer. (I’m not sure where to purchase her stuff now, but my parents have been trying to track her down.) The big brown bowl is from Bennington Potters (the tavernware glaze — my favorite). And the little wooden pinch bowls were actually made by my dad!

  4. says

    Now you can check the list off from “things to do” that you’ve always wanted to do. There’s time to cook a party that takes days to prep, bake a cake, stir the stew pot for hours; endless time to stroll the parks. Time to listen to yourself and know yourself better. Enjoy your new life! It’s gonna be exciting.

  5. says

    i first read this sentence: “My friend Z hypothesized that it’s Saturn’s return.” as “satan’s return…” and i was like, well whoa, what?! this is what happens when i read excitedly, because i’m excited for this news for you, for whatever you’re going to divulge to us, and that you updated!

    my favorite part of this recipe is that it basically makes use of whatever you have in the pantry. with the exception of the squash, which let’s face is, it’s available in abundance right now so no big, i have everything else just hanging out waiting to be use up.

    • says

      Aaahahahahaha. Hurray Satan! Oh man, I just laughed a lot. I’m really excited to share the rest of the news. :D

      I think this has become my go-to curry because it’s so simple, with a relatively short ingredient list. And I feel like I’ll never get sick of kabocha. I’m terrified that it might happen one day, but I’ll just enjoy eating like a crazy person until then.

  6. says

    Congrats on quitting your job. It’s freaking scary. I just quit my job in the corporate world. I’m not sure what kind of business you were in, but be prepared to constantly be telling people about what you ‘used to do.’ Once you no longer get paid in that realm, you constantly feel like you have to justify it. I mean, I hope this doesn’t happen to you, but it happens to me all the time.

    Best of luck! Good things can’t come without a risk or sacrifice, and you already did the hard part. :)

    • says

      Thanks, Christina! My job was pretty innocuous (book layout), so I haven’t had to do too much explaining yet. Or I guess I should say anymore explaining that I usually had to do — the intricacies of the publishing world are a funny thing. :) But I can imagine what it’s like justifying a field you were part of for a long time! (Congrats on leaving your job too!!)

  7. says

    Carey!!! Everything about this is so, so good. I’m so excited for you in all the ways. I’ve never thought of making huge batches of curry to use through the week. I definitely do that with chili (I’m actually going to make a big batch for a friend over the weekend!). And I always associate curries with being full of stuff. Your version here is so simple. I love that.

    I’m really excited about this pink frosting :)

    • says

      Thanks, Brianne!! I’ve always been a bit intimidated by curries because they call for so. many. ingredients, but this one is pretty simple (and so tasty!).

      I’m super psyched for that frosting too. :D

  8. says

    Congratulations to you! It’s weird to congratulate someone on quitting their job, but you knoooow what I mean. Totally in awe of your topsy-turvy life choice–mostly envious, actually. This looks incredibly tasty and I am PUMPED for a fancy cake (and accompanying news, duh). :) xo

    • says

      Thanks, Laura! I’ve felt that mixture of awe/envy towards people who get to do the freelance thing for so long — it’s strange to be on the other side now. :)

  9. says

    Cheers to change!! Exciting times :)

    And this curry? Yum! I saw gorgeous kabocha squashes at the market hall today and now I regret I didn’t take one home with me… [And as a side note: You totally should make those chocolate rye cookies! Made them on Tuesday and they were a winner.]

  10. says

    Congrats!! I know that feeling… it’s nerve wreaking and exhilarating all in the same.. I walked away from corporate America after 10 years (that seems to be a breaking point for several people I know) and will never look back.. This curry and cake would be an excellent way to celebrate..

    • says

      Thanks, Erika! I could totally see how 10 years would be a breaking point for many (such a scary milestone when you aren’t happy!). Congrats on getting out too. :)

  11. says

    congratssss – I am proud of you for taking such a bold decision because I am currently on the same boat but one of these over a beer I will have the courage to give notice and figure out life from there. yay to this curry, looks heavenly..I am now waiting for the cake :)

    • says

      Thank you, Dixya! It really does take a lot of courage. (I felt so nauseous right up until the point when I sent my resignation email.) Figuring out where to go from there is intimidating, but in a very freeing sort of way. Sending lots of good bold decision vibes your way! :)

  12. says

    AHHHHH congratulations, Carey! I’m so glad you made that move! How are you feeling? Are you settling into it or do you still feel like you got kicked in the gut? Are you going to be cooking/blogging full time? So many question, haha! Please keep us posted on your progress. Your voice and photography are such an inspiration! :)

    • says

      Thank you, Haruka! There’s definitely some residual nervous nausea, but I have high hopes for equalizing soon. (If there’s one thing I’ve learned about myself, it’s that I’m a very adaptable creature.) I’m maintaining some steady income by freelancing my previous job work for my favorite client, and then the rest of my time is going to be devoted to cooking/blogging/writing (with one big project occupying most of my time this year). ;) Eeee!

    • says

      Thanks, Molly! I would like to take one bite of the cake and then give the rest away, considering that I’ve been stressing baking/eating like a boss. (But who am I kidding, I’m going to eat the entire thing.) :)

  13. says

    You are one mega brave, awesome lady!! So excited for you :) and NOW I’m ridiculously intrigued by the OTHER half of the news and by how cool that pink cake is gonna be. I can’t wait to see it (I can tell the photos will be beaut) and find out the nneeewwwwssss!!!!!!

    • says

      Thank you, Izy!!!! Oh man, I felt like kind of a douche putting the “hey there’s more big news” teaser in here instead of divulging everything, but I just couldn’t bear to do it over curry! It will be much better discussed over CAKE. :D

  14. says

    YAY FOR YOU, Carey!!! I can only imagine the mixture of elation-terror-uncertainty I’d be going through if I were you, so major props to you, superwoman. I hope I have the same courage when the time comes for me, too.

    And can I just live in the mise photo for this curry? It’s just beyond. I love it, and love this recipe. Can’t wait for pink-news-cake! So so so much congrats to you, friend!

    • says

      Thank you, Cynthia!! :)

      And oh my goodness, that mise photo is one of my favorites ever. All the colors came together so well (especially with that blue-grey surface), and I got the chance to use all the little pinch bowls my dad made!

  15. says

    Carey, I’m so happy and thrilled for you! I love your curry-love analogy, I have the same philosophy, make plenty to last a long time :). As the rest have pointed out here, I kinda want to see that pink frosted cake soon.

  16. says

    Congratulations, Carey. Nothing like leaving a job of which you’ve grown tired to give a lift to your spirits. Great recipe and I’m hoping the second half of your news is that someone offered you a job as a photographer. Good luck. Ken

  17. says

    I’m not sure if the Internet ate my first comment — take 2! So, so, so much CONGRATS and heartfelt best wishes for you, Carey!!! (With a dollop of the same awe-envy you mentioned above ;) ) Not to mention, this curry looks LUSCIOUS and I could live in that mise photo forever, I think.

    Can’t wait to hear all about your next steps (and see the pink-news-cake!) and so, so happy for you! :)

    • says

      Hehe! My comment auto-approval is finicky. Both survived, and I kept this one too because both of them were so sweet! :) That awe-envy is such a funny thing. I really never imagined I’d get to the point where I said “eff it” and took the leap. But here I am! Yikes!

  18. says

    First off, this may be my favorite photo shoot yet. Simply gorgeous. Flawless. Beautiful!!!

    Secondly, congratulations! I quit my job at around the 10 year mark as well and it’s both scary and liberating. I can’t wait to hear what’s up next for you.

    • says

      Thank you, Jen!! This was the first shoot I did with my new 35mm 1.4 lens, and I really loved the way the photos came out (most especially the ingredient shots). :)

  19. says

    Oh, I totally get that. I’m coming up on nearly 8 years at my job and getting that itch. We’ll see if I make it to 10… Congrats on taking the big leap though, so looking forward to see what this new future has in store for you and I can’t wait for booze + cake + more excitement!

  20. says

    A huge congratulations to you! You deserve so much and now I hope you will have even more time to devote to the good things in life: food, family, and friends. xxoo

  21. says

    Congratulations Carey!!! That’s so exciting! I know great things are ahead for you! Love this dish! My daughter and I always use chickpeas as our go-to dinner! They are so versatile and yummy! This has our name all over it! Pinning now!

  22. says

    Wow! Congrats on quitting the job and welcome to a different world :) I’ve did the same thing last year and it’s one of the best decision ever. There’s nothing like waking up in the morning and going to do what you love. Looking forward to hearing of your new ventures :)

  23. lynx artemis says

    i had an amazing kabocha plant in my garden and i just chopped up the last of them (they were sure it was spring and time to rot & sprout… almost). they are so good. thanks for the amazing recipes and links and big congratulations!

  24. says

    This really blew my mind! It took me a while to make, but it was a very enjoyable experience, and one of the best dishes I have ever made. Thank you for this! I am pinning it in my “Recipe Hall of Fame” and can’t wait to see what is next from you! <3333

  25. says

    Congratulations on putting yourself first! It’s a big scary leap, but if you’re not putting your needs and desires first, then you are an automaton. I am an automaton for another year or two, but luckily my work has as many ups as it does downs.

  26. says

    I am so happy to hear the first half of your news–can’t wait for the other half! Brave leap, lady. Looking forward to see what you do next.

    Also, this curry is my kind of food. I’m obsessed with farro, and curry = love.

  27. says

    Sigh. I’m just gaining footing in that very same job you speak of–in your twenties, straight out of college, learning to do on the fly. You’re giving me hope that there’s light at the end of the tunnel! Not that I hate it, I just…don’t know if I want to be here for 10 years either :)

    This curry looks SO delicious and I’m so sad I used up my squash last night, or I’d be making this tonight for sure!! (PS. Do you think green curry paste would work instead of red?)

    • says

      Thanks, Erika! I definitely think green curry paste would work. It’s quite a different flavor from the red variety, but I think it would complement the squash super nicely too. Let me know how it works out!

      That omg-I’m-working-at-a-real-job-and-I-kind-of-have-no-clue-what-I’m-doing experience is so invaluable. But there’s definitely light at the end of the tunnel! :)

  28. says

    I am so excited for you to share the big news (even though I secretly know what it is, muwahaha) :D :D :D And this CURRY. Kabocha squash is the best for curries, it just has such a wonderfully dense and nutty flavor to it that makes it great for concentrating down into a thick delicious paste. I’ve also had kabocha squash tempura-fried at Japanese restaurants before and it blew my mind, I’ve always been wanting to try tempura at home but I’m a bit scared to do it without a deep fryer because I’d want to know exactly what the oil’s temperature is. Plus hot oil is always slightly terrifying. And I am a bit ashamed to admit that I’ve never had faro, it looks really tasty and cute, though, so I will be giving it a try soon! I am kind of lame when it comes to branching out with grains, I always stick with rice and wheat pretty much. A crutch I hope to break in this new year :)

  29. Jacqueline says

    I was at my job for 9 years, 2 months and 29 days. I had a pact with my best friend at the job that we could kill each other if either reached 10 years…he’s still there, but I took the leap too. On to bigger and better things! As an added bonus, I’ve had a full month of cooking some fabulous things and being really exciting at the new opportunities coming my way! Good luck to you. Can’t wait to try this recipe!

  30. says

    A big congrats to you on this change. It takes a lot to leave a job (any job, really)… but know that you won’t regret it.

    And can we talk about this recipe and how comforting it looks? It’s so brutal out there… I really could live off of this right now.

  31. says

    I’m so glad that I just stumbled on your blog! This curry looks amazing. I need to make more curry. Also, congrats on leaving the job. Big leaps into the unknown can be so rewarding – from someone who has changed direction too.

  32. says

    Wow, congratulations! What a leap — it must feel liberating. I am seriously crushing on this curry right now. I’ve been sick for the past few days, and could use something warm, comforting, and made in bulk. I can almost smell it through my screen!

  33. says

    Congrats on the big leap to the next step in life!! How wonderful!! I have that same goal for myself – so it’s great to see that it can be done it just takes some additional bravery and lady-cohones to do it! Rock on!!

  34. says

    Congratulations!! That is so admirable, really. And I’m sure that it took a lot of bravery and strength! I am so glad that you achieved your goal and this year is looking bright for you.

    It is so hard to take a leap sometimes, but I think (as corny as it sounds) whenever you follow your heart, things have a tendency to work out for the best.

  35. says

    So I thought I had commented on this post and came looking for the cake post! Miss your posts Carey. I remember writing a similar post last year when I quite my job and let me tell you this – life has been awesome since. I have been working on things that make me absolutely giddy with happiness and never feels like work. And though I have days I scream out loud, it’s all worth it. Now please, get the other news out!! xx

  36. says

    Congrats! I recently (turned 40) and took the plunge and quite my job of 7 years. It’s a relief and terrifying at the same time. I’m attending a 3-month culinary program abroad and contemplating my next steps. Am curious to hear what you are up to. Best of luck with your future endeavors. Linda @wildgreensandsardines.blogspot.com

  37. LaDona says

    So, several months later, how’s it going without the job? I often look at people who are working in what to me are thankless jobs and pray a little that they find peace and joy elsewhere. Btw, this is the perfect fall recipe I’ve been looking for. Can’t wait to try it!

    • carey says

      Everything has been wonderful! Freelance life can be a little tedious at times (it feels like the work comes all at once or not at all), but it is so much more fun and rewarding than what I was doing, and I’d never go back. :)


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