Red Curry Delicata Squash and Tofu – Recipe

Red Curry Delicata Squash and Tofu

Delicata squash is one of my favorite winter squash varieties. It is relatively easy to cut and peel, cooks quickly and has a rich, sweet flavor. (Check out last year's orzo-stuffed delicata squash for a festive vegetarian Thanksgiving entree).

You might not immediately think of putting winter squash in a Southeast Asian-style curry. I learned about it from a terrific pumpkin curry at my favorite local Thai place. When I saw a recipe for Malaysian red curry paste in Ivy's book, I just knew I had to put it to use with delicata squash and tofu.

Making curry paste is addictive; the volatile aroma and flavor is miles beyond the pre-packaged stuff, though in a pinch you can use that with the squash part of the recipe below. (Just make sure that if you buy a packaged curry it is vegetarian, if that is important to you).

My red curry is very lightly changed from Ivy's recipe, adapted to what I had in the house and my own peculiar way of doing things. The great thing is, this recipe makes more paste than you will probably use in a single meal. Freeze the excess and you will have the beginning of two or three great dishes waiting for you at a moment's notice. Curry fried rice. In a soup like laksa or kao soi. Look out world.

This is a relatively dry curry; no coconut milk is added to produce a bowl of sauce, though it will have a small amount of liquid. You'll want to serve this with jasmine rice, and maybe an herb-filled salad like this (minus the tofu).

Red Curry Delicata Squash and Tofu
Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free
Serves 4

For the red curry paste:

  • 6 dried New Mexico chili pods, stems removed
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • several grinds black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2" piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped red onion
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, tender white parts only, pounded and roughly chopped
  • 1 big handful of cilantro, leaves and stems (rinsed)
  1. Tear the chili pods into small pieces. If you like your curries hot, keep the seeds and ribs. If not, throw them out.
  2. Set up your blender and put the chili pieces in the jar. Pour the boiling water over them, cover, and let sit 20 minutes or so. In the meantime, you can gather the rest of your ingredients.
  3. Toast the coriander seeds for 2 minutes in a dry skillet over medium heat.
  4. Add the seeds and all of the remaining ingredients to the blender. Puree for several minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides and top. If needed, add a little more water to get the paste to come together.
  5. Put aside 5 tablespoons to use for the delicata squash red curry recipe below and freeze the rest (unless you will use it in the next few days). You might like to freeze it in individual-use portions so you don't have to thaw the whole thing.

For the curried delicata squash and tofu:

  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 pound firm or extra-firm tofu, cut into 2x2x1/2" squares and patted dry
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 5 tablespoons of the red curry paste
  • 2 good-sized delicata squash, peeled, halved, seeded, and cut into 1/4" (or so) thick half moons
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup broccoli florets, cut very small
  • black pepper
  • cilantro for garnish
  1. Heat a big, heavy skillet or a wok over very high heat. You'll need some sort of cover, but it doesn't have to be tight fitting. When it is hot, add two tablespoons of the oil and 5 seconds later, the tofu in a single layer. Fry on both sides until nicely browned. Remove with a slotted spoon or spatula to paper towels and season with a bit of salt.
  2. Add the remaining two tablespoons of oil, the sugar, and the curry paste. Fry, stirring constantly for one minute. Add the squash and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Stir and fry for one minute, then add 1/4 cup of water and cover. Cook until the squash is tender, occasionally lifting the lid to stir, check doneness, and add a little water if needed. When it is nearly done, add the broccoli. Cook until the squash is done. This will probably take about 10 minutes total.
  3. Remove the cover and add the tofu. Stir to mix. If needed, add just a little more water to get a little bit of glossy sauce.
  4. Serve with rice, garnishing with a grind of black pepper and the cilantro.
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Posted by Michael Natkin on Friday, October 30th, 2009 in Gluten-Free or modifiable, Main Courses, Recipes, Vegan or Modifiable.

14 Responses to “Red Curry Delicata Squash and Tofu – Recipe”

  1. Reply
    October 30, 2009 at 7:29 am #

    Just make sure to not touch the chilies! I made that mistake once a few years ago and my fingers burned for 3 days! My eyes burned from inadvertently moving my head over the steam too. So wish i would have known they were hot peppers and not sweet peppers. Lol

    I can’t get lemon grass where i live now. Would it still taste ok without? I was thinking of using fresh basil instead.

  2. Reply
    October 30, 2009 at 4:24 pm #

    Yum, Michael! Mr. Tofu loves dry curries like this, and it’s so nice and adaptable…who would have thunk of delicata? I like kambocha squash in curry, but never tried little delicata. They’re actual much more practical since it’s just the two of us. Thanks for idea!

  3. Reply
    October 30, 2009 at 8:35 pm #

    i’m not much on tofu but the squash and red curry paste sound awesome!!

  4. Reply
    November 2, 2009 at 3:38 pm #

    Great vegetarian recipe! You should submit this recipe to! 🙂

  5. Reply
    December 10, 2009 at 8:28 am #

    This recipe was ridiculously delicious–and I was proud to have all the ingredients on hand or growing. AND you give another recipe to use with my leftover paste (although I’d gladly just make it again. The little delicata moons, which I’d never had before, were luscious!) Thanks so much for your blog!

  6. Reply
    April 18, 2011 at 6:55 pm #

    I make it with butternut squash (one small rather than 2 good-sized), and that works very well.

  7. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    April 18, 2011 at 7:34 pm #

    Sounds great! Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  8. Reply
    November 16, 2011 at 6:33 pm #

    This sounds awesome. My only gripe- New Mexico chile is spelled with an e at the end, not an i, just like the country. Thanks for all your recipes and tips!

  9. Reply
    February 7, 2012 at 6:01 pm #

    This was excellent! I cheated and used a jarred sauce, but the combination of the delicata, tofu and broccoli was great.

    • Reply
      February 7, 2012 at 7:52 pm #

      Cheating is warmly encouraged!

  10. Reply
    January 4, 2013 at 11:02 pm #

    Just made this, and, as sometimes happens, I was unable to get all the right ingredients. No delicata available so I used one acorn squash and one small butternut; I was only able to get arbol chiles, so I used six, but I discarded the seeds of four of them since they are hotter, and we could still discern all the flavors in the curry. We all loved it. When delicata turns up in the store I will definitely make it again.

    • Reply
      January 4, 2013 at 11:06 pm #

      Sounds great! The other squash should work just fine, they just have to get peeled and may need a longer cooking time.

  11. Reply
    September 1, 2017 at 10:07 am #

    I missed the past where you add the soaked chilies to the ingredients in the blender. Do you drain the chilies first or do you add the soaking liquid as well? Thanks.

    • Reply
      September 1, 2017 at 11:34 am #

      Drain them mostly, blend, then add back liquid as needed.

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