remember that previous post about spring? sadly, sf has seemed to reverse back into winter this week. luckily, i was prepared with a kabocha squash from the farmers market. kabocha or japanese pumpkin, is my favorite winter squash to cook because it much denser than other winter squash so it is not as watery. the peel is also very thin and edible and it cooks pretty quickly. if you have ever had pumpkin curry at a thai restaurant, they most likely used kabocha. i kept this puree simple in flavor so i could really taste the kabocha but you can increase the spices if wanted. you can also make the puree as thick or thin as you want, depending on what you want to do with it. i kept it simple as a soup, but i think if you mixed some with ricotta or goat cheese it would make an excellent pasta stuffing or maybe even a dip. if you do not puree it, you could also serve it on top of some grains (polenta/grits or rice would be good.) i also added about 1/2 cup of red lentils to the squash to add some protein and increase the thickness of the soup, but you can omit them or use another legume.
to garnish my puree, i sauteed a bunch of scallions with some chile oil and garlic until soft and browned. most people do not think of scallions as a vegetable on their own, but they make an excellent component. i have also braised whole scallions until tender, but that is another post. yogurt and thai basil provide a cooling touch. on the side, i quick pickled an english cucumber while i was making the soup with salt, 1 smashed clove of garlic, sesame oil, and lime juice and folded in a chopped avocado right before serving.
kabocha squash puree/soup
1 kabocha squash about the size of a large baby’s head peeled, seeded, and chopped into 1-1 1/2 inch cubes
1 medium red onion diced
about 1/2 cup red lentils rinsed
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
water or vegetable stock
garnishes of your choice- sauteed scallions, yogurt, herbs
heat a couple tablespoons of light tasting oil in a heavy pot over medium heat. add the onions and saute until soft. add the spices and saute for about a minute or two or until everything is very fragrant. add the squash and lentils, season, and just enough liquid to cover. bring to a steady simmer and turn down the heat and let the squash cook until very tender. the red lentils will break down and pretty much disappear. monitor and make sure the pot does not get dry. when the squash is tender, puree in batches in your blender. return to the pot and add more liquid if needed and reheat. i just used a bit more stock but you could use coconut milk to make it even creamier. check the seasoning, ladle into bowls, garnish and serve.