Every year during Halloween I make a curry. Something very cozy, and stick to ribs that I can nosh on between tossing Starburst to the local ghouls and goblins. This year it was this Curry Braised Delicata Squash. This vegetable-forward dish features thick slices of squash, chunks of eggplant and parsnip, and wedges of boy choy braised and bathed in a lemongrass heavy red curry broth. The dish is served with rice and finished with cashews and red chilies, and yes, it is a dream come true. I’m sure it will see many repeat performances in the month of November alone. So let’s make it!
We’re in peak squash season now, so this is the perfect time to gush about my favorite – Delicata. It also goes by the names peanut squash, Bohemian squash, and sweet potato squash. Not only is Delicata delicious, it’s beautiful, low maintenance, and extremely forgiving. And you won’t risk life and limb trying to open it. Its skin is so delicate that there’s no need to peel it and with its striking stripe pattern, why would you want to? And the flavor is bold, buttery, and sweet. It’s the perfect winter squash, in my humble opinion. But if you really can’t find this beauty in your neck of the woods, feel free to substitute it with butternut squash. If you do go that route, I would suggest peeling it first. The butternut’s skin is much more toothsome.
Before you place a pan on a stove, we have to prep our veggies and make our lemongrass puree. There is quite a bit of chopping involved in this recipe. It’s one of the pitfalls of vegetable-heavy meals. But thankfully this Curry Braised Delicata Squash features chunky cuts of vegetables, so without any demanding work, you should fly through it. Now, let’s talk about the lemongrass puree. Chop a lemongrass stalk into more manageable pieces. Pile them into a food processor. Add 1/2 a cup of vegetable stock – you need a little liquid to get things going with a puree like this. And blitz until it’s as smooth as you can get it. Lemongrass is very fibrous, so the puree won’t be silky. Don’t worry, the lemongrass will continue to break down as the curry braises. Lemongrass adds a gorgeous floral, citrus note, so it definitely worth the extra step.
We’re going to start by building our braising liquid and that starts with neutral oil in a large braiser over medium heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add onion wedges and sauté until just softened. Stir in some garlic and ginger and sauté for 30 seconds more. Add a heaping tablespoon of red curry paste. You can use homemade or store-bought. I went with store-bought and this is my preferred brand. It’s the best curry paste I’ve come across and you can get it at most Asian grocery stores.
Saute the curry paste until it begins to bubble and the oil begins to separate. Add the lemongrass puree, fish sauce, and a little sugar. The sugar brings a hint of sweetness that is the perfect counter note to all the salty, funky, and umami flavors this curry has going on. I used a turbinado sugar for a little extra depth. But if granulated sugar is all you have, that will work as well. Honey is another good option. Pour in a little veggie stock and a can of coconut cream. Bring everything up to a gentle simmer and add the squash, parsnip, and eggplant. Cover the braiser and transfer it to a 325°F oven. Let braise for 45 minutes.
At the end of the 45 minutes, quarter some Bok Choy. Take the braiser out of the oven and squeeze the Bok Choy in amongst the now tender vegetables. Cover and return the braiser to the oven and braise for another 15 minutes or until the Bok Choy has wilted and softened. Finish the dish with a squeeze of lime juice and that’s your dish done. See? It’s the perfect low-maintenance meal. Pile the veggies on top of steamed rice and garnish with red chili slices, whole cashews, and cilantro. Serve immediately!
And there you go, Curry Braised Delicata Squash. A hearty, vegetable-forward dish, that will stick to your ribs and warm you from the inside out. Basically, everything you could want from a late fall meal.
Curry Braised Delicata Squash
- 1 large braiser
- 1 stalk lemongrass cut into chunks
- 1½ cups vegetable stock divided
- ¼ cup neutral oil
- 1 yellow onion cut into wedges
- 1 tbsp fresh ginger minced
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tbsp red curry paste heaping
- 3 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp turbinado sugar
- 1 (400ml, 13.5 fl oz) can coconut cream
- 1 delicata squash deseeded and coarsely chopped
- 2 baby eggplant coarsely chopped
- 4 parsnips peeled and coarsely chopped
- 6 baby bok choy quartered
- ½ cup roasted unsalted cashews
- 2 red finger hot pepper thinly sliced
- 8-10 sprigs fresh cilantro
- Preheat the oven to 325F.
- Place the lemongrass in a food processor and add 1/2 a cup of the vegetable stock. Blitz until nice and smooth.1 stalk lemongrass, 1½ cups vegetable stock
- Pour the oil in a braiser and heat until shimmering. Add the onions and sauté until just translucent. Stir in the garlic and ginger and sauté for a minute more.¼ cup neutral oil, 1 yellow onion, 1 tbsp fresh ginger, 5 cloves garlic
- Stir in the curry paste and sauté until the oil begins to separate. Pour in the lemongrass purée, fish sauce, sugar, the remaining vegetable stock, and coconut cream. Bring the mixture up to a simmer.1 tbsp red curry paste, 3 tbsp fish sauce, 1 tbsp turbinado sugar, 1 (400ml, 13.5 fl oz) can coconut cream, 1½ cups vegetable stock
- Arrange the delicata squash, eggplant, and parsnips in the simmering curry. Turn off the heat and cover. Transfer the braiser to the oven and let braise for 45 minutes.1 delicata squash, 2 baby eggplant, 4 parsnips
- When the 45 minutes are up, take the braiser out of the oven and arrange the Bok Choy in amongst the now tender squash and vegetables. Cover the braiser and return it to the oven. Braise for another 15 minutes or until the Bok Choy is tender.6 baby bok choy
- Spoon the curry over steamed rice and garnish with cashews and sliced red chilies. Serve immediately.½ cup roasted unsalted cashews, 2 red finger hot pepper, 8-10 sprigs fresh cilantro