Tuesday Dinner: Winter Squash with Red Curry

Winter Squash with Red Curry • Cabbage Slaw with Tangy Miso Dressing • Levain Rolls • Pineapple Icebox Cake

I usually make this soup sometime in November, right around Thanksgiving. It’s the time of year for winter squash soups, and—although I just put a turkey into a brine full of sage, thyme, and garlic—it’s nice to have an alternative from the conventionally traditional flavors of the season. This soup is spicy and flavorful from Thai red curry paste, and pungent with lime juice and fish sauce; a bit of coconut milk stirred in at the end of cooking adds a lovely richness. I’ve given you some green onions to sprinkle on top, but if you skip them, the soup is smooth enough to sip out of a mug. It’s a nice thing to do, sip soup out of a mug in autumn, and if you can be sitting in front of a fireplace with a fire while you sip, even better.

We’ve got a new salad dressing this week, and it came about from laziness necessity being the mother of invention. I started off making my standard Thai-inspired dressing, with equal amounts of lime juice and fish sauce, balanced with brown sugar and red pepper flakes… but then I ran out of fish sauce! And red pepper flakes! And lime juice! I was cooking at my parents’ house, as usual, and I knew I had all those ingredients at my own house, but I didn’t want to take the time to walk down the street to fetch them. So instead, the dressing evolved into something new and different: a glug of rice wine vinegar added to the lime juice, a hefty scoop of miso paste playing fish sauce’s umami role, and jalapeños blended into the dressing instead of red pepper flakes. And I love it! The fusion of a very Japanese ingredient (miso) into what was a pretty authentic Southeast Asian dressing works like a charm. And to throw another wrench into the machine of tradition, there are dried cranberries mixed into the cabbage, celery, and onions, where some other fruit (pineapple, oranges, melon, tomato) would have been more expected. But it’s Thanksgiving week, and that means cranberries, for gosh sakes.

But no worries, pineapple comes back into the menu with a pineapple icebox cake for dessert. It’s got pineapple angel food cake as the base, with a topping made from pineapple and lemon juices mixed with sweetened condensed milk. It’s called an “icebox” cake because the recipe calls for an overnight stay in the fridge, so the topping can thicken properly. It’s a rather unassuming-looking dessert, with a smooth, pale yellow appearance, but each bite packs a punch with its bright fruit flavor. Enjoy!

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