Happy Friday, friends! We’re just about a week away from Christmas. Are you ready? Almost ready? Nowhere near ready?
I would say I am about 80% ready. I still have some shopping to do, stockings to stuff, and menus to prepare…all while tending to my little babe and holding down a job…but majority of my shopping IS actually done. Whew. I can’t wait until Christmas Day. That’s when all the hustle and bustle ends, and I finally have a chance to sit back and enjoy the fruits of my labor. CANNOT WAIT. The fact that my 15-month-old will actually have a clue for the first time (he was basically a blob last Christmas. The cutest blob EVER) on Christmas morning makes my heart flutter with excitement.
I also managed to watch two of my most favorite Christmas movies this week: Love Actually and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. I’m feeling festive!
In addition to that, I am hosting Christmas dinner this year. Eeek! Pressure’s on. While I’m still working on the dinner menu, I’ve already figured out what the daytime eating is going to consist of. Because, really, snacking is my favorite part. I’m all about those apps, guys. First up in the morning: cinnamon rolls, coffee, and mimosas. Yesssss. Cinnamon rolls are a rarity in my house, but we freaking LOVE them. I try to save them for special occasions. I envision getting up early with the baby and heading downstairs for coffee and a warm cinnamon roll while he plays with the wrapping paper instead of his actual new toys. Isn’t that how it always goes?
Once the gifts have been opened and many a cinnamon roll have been consumed, we’ll move onto the part of the day that requires non-pajama clothing. Family will start to arrive. I’ll start prepping some munchies for the day, including a cheese board and some Christmas crostini. Mimosas and bloody Mary’s will be a-flowing. Oh, and I’ll be garnishing this to-die-for dip with some salty nuts, fresh herbs, and a drizzle of coconut milk.
Yup. This Thai butternut squash dip is SO happening. It’s totally worthy of the Christmas Day festivities. People will flip out over it. Promise.
You know why? It’s something that is somewhat familiar but also a little different. I don’t know about you, but my family never ate anything Thai-flavored at Christmas. Butternut squash? Yes. Coconut milk and Thai chile paste? Not so much. But I find that’s what keeps things interesting, right? I am fairly traditional when it comes to the holiday food. Thanksgiving dinner is usually made up of all the expected traditional eats with maybe one or two side dish twists thrown in. Christmas dinner follows suit. But you know where I love to mix things up? The snacks! Because anything goes when you call it a snack or an appetizer.
This dip is rich and creamy and slightly sweet. It packs a punch (but not too much!), too. A little spicy, a little salty, and kinda sweet. Mmm. It’s glorious. It all starts with roasted butternut squash, which then gets pureed with some cream cheese and coconut milk. YUM. Then, all the fun flavors of Thai food come into play. Chile paste. Fish sauce. Toasted sesame oil. Cilantro. More coconut milk. Uh huh, so good.
The best way to serve this dip? Well, there’s two ways actually. The first being at room temperature with warm, crisped pita bread on the side. The second being warmed in the oven with warm, crisped pita bread on the side. Overall message: don’t skip the pita! It’s so delicious when dunked in this fun and festive (?) dip. I’m questioning the festive part. I mean, it’s not TRADITIONALLY festive, right? But it IS delicious and fun and pretty! So…FESTIVE totally works here!
A bonus? This can be made completely ahead and garnished up with herbs, nuts, and coconut milk right before serving. Even the pita is quick. It only takes 10 minutes or so in the oven to get nice and warm.
I’m going out on a limb this year and serving this right alongside my cheese board. I’m confident that people will love it. Traditional or not.
C’mon. Be brave with me this year. Switch things up! Dunk that pita!
3 cups cubed butternut squash
1 cup diced onion
3 whole garlic cloves, peeled
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper
8 oz cream cheese, softened
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons full-fat canned coconut milk (whisk together first before measuring out)
1 tablespoon Thai red chile paste (or more to taste – depends on how much spice you like)
1 teaspoon fish sauce
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
Chopped peanuts or cashews
Warmed pita or naan bread, for serving
Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Spread the squash, onion, and garlic cloves out in an even layer and sprinkle with the brown sugar. Toss to coat and then drizzle with the oil. Toss to coat again. Season everything with a pinch of salt.
Roast for 25-30 minutes, tossing occasionally, or until the veggies are caramelized and the squash is very tender.
Allow to cool slightly and then transfer everything to a food processor.
Add the cream cheese, coconut milk, chile paste, fish sauce, and sesame oil to the food processor. Pulse to combine the ingredients. Add a little salt and pepper and then run the machine until everything is super smooth and creamy. Taste to check for seasonings.
Garnish with desired toppings and serve with an additional drizzle of coconut milk over top. I love warm pita or naan bread best for this dip.
You can also serve this dip warm. To do so, transfer the dip to a baking dish and bake in a 375°F oven for 20 minutes, or until everything is warmed through. Garnish the same as you would if you were eating it at room temperature.