Hands wide open

butternut squash 2 pieces
squash and cilantro

Here we are again; simultaneously at a close while also at the cusp of a beginning. I find myself craving quiet, trying to take the last year in and mindfully looking to 2015. It has been a year of questions, uncertainty, and feeling lost. A year that has taught me to be more daring and to keep going anyway. A year that has again begged me to forgive more and to love better. More than once, I've had to pull out my crisis tool kit which involves my favorite movie and book, but also the following TED talk by Sarah Kay. It makes me cry every time. Her poetry reminds me that we are meant to grow, explore and create. And if the road gets tough which it will, I should fight my instinct to throw punches and block life, but instead receive it with hands wide open. With closed fists the wonder can't get in. And I want to see the wonder in 2015.  

aleppo pepper turmeric cilantro
turmeric
soup version
curry version

Butternut squash + coconut, miso and lime
adapted from Deborah Madison's Vegetable Literacy
serves 6

The original recipe is for a butternut squash soup (pictured left) and called for 2 tsp of Aleppo pepper.  I'm a bit of a wuss when it comes to spicy, so I cut it to 1 tsp which ended up still being too hot. So, I served the squash more as a curry over turmeric rice and with some oven roasted turkey breast to cut the heat. We ended up loving it this way. I've dramatically reduced the spice below to reflect my preference, but feel free to increase the Aleppo pepper if you like a good kick.    

1 (2 lb) butternut squash
2 TBS coconut oil
1 large onion, diced
1 (2-inch) piece of ginger, peeled and minced
1/4-1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 cup cilantro stems and leaves, chopped
sea salt
1 (15-ounce) can whole fat coconut milk
juice of 1/2 lime
2 TBS white miso
toasted sesame oil, for drizzling at the end

OPTIONAL: brown rice and protein of choice

Cut the squash at the neck (just where it starts to get round) into two pieces. Cut the rounded (bottom) half lengthwise and set to steam over simmering water. Next, skin the neck: stand the top piece flat and slide your knife in long strokes between the flesh and skin working your way around until it is all peeled. Cut peeled squash into planks and then into 1/2-inch cubes. In a large soup pot, heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, squash and ginger. Stir and cook for a few minutes. Add the Aleppo pepper, turmeric, chopped cilantro and 1.5 tsp of sea salt. Cook for another three minutes, stirring frequently. Add the coconut milk and 3.5 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for about 25 minutes until squash is tender.

Meanwhile, when the steaming squash is tender, transfer to cutting board and scoop out flesh. Puree with 1 cup of liquid from the soup until smooth. Add back to soup and add lime juice. Taste for seasoning adding more salt or lime juice, if needed. Just before serving, mix miso with a ladle-full of warm soup, smashing to dissolve and mix. Stir into the soup. Taste for final seasoning.  Can be topped with a drizzle of sesame oil before serving. Serve as a soup or curry (see note above).