Planning for Thanksgiving with a squash and Idiazabal soufflé

I am always fascinated by family dynamics and traditions that are passed down from one generation to another – particularly in the kitchen. It is probably one of the first things that I ask people as I get to know them. I ask for many details too.

“What are the smells that you remember from your childhood? And who was in charge of the menu planning?”

I am fascinated by it all.

Mostly because in my own life food memories are such a driving force and source of inspiration. My tie to my family far away and my grandparents who passed.

As you might imagine, I didn’t grow up celebrating Thanksgiving, but it has now become one of my favorite holidays. The chance to gather with family and friends to be thankful for all the positive we have in our lives. Such a strong moment and with so much significance if we really stop and think about it.

Something we should actually do everyday, shouldn’t we?

Every now and then, I stop to think about what traditions C. and I are creating for our family now – a mixed bag of American classics with my Basque sensibility. “What will our family gatherings be in 20 years?” I ask him. It is fun to think like that sometimes – all of which is shaped by how we interact in this moment.

“I think we should go visit your family this year. I need some snow” I said to C a few weeks ago.

Shortly after, he booked tickets for us to travel to Montana. Did I say how much I love Montana? I do. Very much.

I am excited for Jon and Miren to play in the snow, for vast open spaces, to visit a farm or two, and to sit by a fire sharing old family stories. And although I probably won’t be in charge of the menu, I certainly plan to make a dish or two – and if they let me, dessert too.

I thought of the Thanksgiving inspiration board that I put together for Cooking Channel’s countdown to Thanksgiving. Always inspired by the season’s produce – winter squash, apples, pears, chestnuts, leeks, or fennel. All of them will be in our cooking.

“What will you be making this year?” my mom asked. “I don’t know” I said to her, “but I am beginning by testing this squash, Idiazabal, and herb soufflé”.

A bechamel-based soufflé with roasted kabocha squash, Idiazabal cheese, and lots of herbs and a touch of cumin – such a creamy interior. I think it will make a great side dish.

I also tried a dairy free version omitting the cheese and using substituting olive oil and coconut milk for the butter and whole milk. It worked great.

There will also be salad, soup, and a tart – I anticipate an apple tart. After all, C’s uncle Loren will be driving all the way from Wenatchee, Washington. There will be lots of apples.

And I could not be happier indeed.

And so tell me, if you celebrate Thanksgiving, when do you begin planning and where does your inspiration come from?

I’m intrigued.

Kabocha squash, Idiazabal, and herb soufflé

Serves 6

1 small kabocha squash, halved, seeded, peeled, and cut into 1-inch wedges
2 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons soft unsalted butter, plus more for ramekins
1/3 cup (20 g) gluten-free breadcrumbs
1 cup (250 ml) whole milk
3 tablespoons (45 g) sweet rice flour
3 ounces (90 g) Idiazabal, grated
3 tablespoons finely chopped herbs (parsley, sage, thyme, chives)
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 eggs, separated

Preheat oven to 400F (200C).

In a baking pan, toss the squash wedges and garlic together with the olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Bake for 30 minutes or until the squash is soft and slightly caramelized. Transfer the roasted squash to a food processor and puree. Measure 1 cup (225 g) of puree and set aside.

Brush the ramekins with soft butter. Coat the inside of the ramekins with the breadcrumbs. Set aside.

In a small pot, heat the milk over medium heat until it reaches a light simmer.

In a separate medium pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the sweet rice flour and whisk together for 1 minute. Add the warm milk and whisk until it comes together and thickens. Transfer this mixture to a medium bowl. Add the pureed squash, Idiazabal and the herbs and whisk together until the cheese is melted. Add the egg yolks, cumin, black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and whisk quickly.

In a separate bowl whip the egg whites until foamy and soft peaks form. Fold a third of the whipped egg whites into the squash mixture and mix until thoroughly combined. Add the rest of the egg whites and gently fold to keep as much of the air in. Spoon the mixture into the ramekins. Fill 3/4 of the way up.

Bake for 12-14 minutes until they have risen and top turns golden brown. Serve immediately.

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58 Responses to “Planning for Thanksgiving with a squash and Idiazabal soufflé”

  1. Sometimes the most rustic dishes are the most beautiful. This just proves that… it’s stunning, actually. Makes me excited for Thanksgiving to be here (so soon!!!!).

  2. Jarka H. says:

    Another absolutelly amazing photos, all your pictures cause that I want to start shooting food. I love how elegant all photos looks and color combination is always brilliant!

  3. Such a beautiful post Aran! I never celebrated Thanksgiving growing up either but we had so many other Holiday traditions where my mom and I would sit down and plan the menu, then cook it…

  4. che immagini meravigliose e che deliziose ricette! complmenti, un bacio

  5. Natashia says:

    That soufflé looks amazing! I love your salad dishes, they always look so simple and you let the ingredients speak for them self, I like that :)

  6. What a delicious collection of autumn images…Montana should be delightful — enjoy the snow! I am hosting my second thanksgiving — as a gluten-free vegetarian foodie, I sort of turned the tables on what I traditionally grew up eating on Thanksgiving, and luckily both sides of my family seemed to enjoy it (I mean, they’re coming back, right? haha) Thanks for sharing another lovely post with us, Aran!

  7. We don’t actually celebrate Thanksgiving sadly but we should….I wish we did! Maybe I’ll start that tradition in our family. It’s certainly something that should be celebrated everyday and if I was then I would probably make sweet potato fritters, a hearty roast for mains and a chocolate and coffee pear crumble for dessert. Happy Thanksgiving to you.

  8. cindy* says:

    love-ly! my family has a long list of standard dishes for Thanksgiving, the star of the show being my grandmothers homemade egg noodles in turkey broth. This year as 20+ family members gathers in Utah, I will be in Michigan orchestrating Thanksgiving for my brothers-in-law and father-in-law with my husband. The menu is all me and while it seems a little daunting, I’m excited!

  9. Another lovely post! That soufflé looks delicious and the apple tart is just so irresistible.



  10. Gretchen says:

    I am always a guest at someone’s house for the big Thanksgiving meal, so I don’t get to do much planning. But, lunch on Thanksgiving Day is another story! I get together with my side of the family for a lunch made entirely of pie–we each contribute 2 or 3 varieties. It’s always fun sitting down with my sister and mom to discuss which varieties we’re going to try this year!

  11. Seamus says:

    Another lovely post. The photos are as good as food. I’m kinda interested on the leafy greens that garnish your dishes. I’m sort of ignorant when it comes to leafy greens. I suggest you post a list of greens–a detailed post–their names, images (how they look), how they taste or what they’re good for.

  12. my family’s routine for Thanksgiving is so trusted that I know exactly what everyone will make. My Aunt Mary hosts and makes about 4 Turkeys in a variety of ways (roast, hot sauce smoked, and deep fried). Everyone brings their signature dish. My mother brings her crunchy Vegetable casserole. There will be a Mac n Cheese, Broccoli Cheese, Blueberry Heaven cake, ham, sweet potato casserole, pies, and green beans. It stays mostly unchanged and wonderful.

  13. I am bringing a cornbread oyster dressing. This is something particular to the Cajun area of So. Louisiana. My husband cannot arrive without displaying his signature apple pie. Oh, and my brioche rolls will a new arrival…

  14. Seamus- i use different greens all the time and you are right, they might be worth their own post one day. i love greens. the ones on top of the souffle are watercress leaves. i also use lots of herbs and their flowers, as well as microgreens like pea tendrils, kale and radish greens.

    I really enjoy reading about your holiday traditions and all the different dishes. i wish i could taste them all.

    Thank you guys!

  15. Oh this looks yummy and is helping me settle into a long winter. Settle in, cozy up and eat!!

  16. Lovely posts–I like your sentiments. And a beautiful recipe as well

    I live in Mexico now, and for the holidays I join my family with that of my best friend and her family. Although our nationalities are mixed, we still tend to make traditional recipes tied to our American childhood–albeit with a thoroughly Mexican turkey and fruit punch!

  17. I get up early and begin to cook and bake. I do it all in one day, and it’s easy because I prepare fairly simple things that my family has made for years…if I didn’t make those traditional dishes, my family would be devastated!

    Wishing you and your family a very Happy Thanksgiving!

  18. I like what you said about the smell memories – I’m the same way. I just baked an almond pound cake that makes me feel like a kid again, since my mom used to bake so many cakes and pastries with almond. Tonight, I’m also experimenting with some roasted squash, and have a plan for a vegetarian lasagna with roasted squash and pumpkin, sliced pears and caramelized onions – I’m hoping it’ll be yummy! My mom tends to get stressed at the holidays, so I’ve sort of taken over the planning, and I’ll e-mail her all my ideas of what we each can make – I think it takes some of the burden off her. I’m dreaming of a pumpkin layer cake, caramel apple pie, the usual casseroles, and a cranberry orange compote. And she’ll be making the ham or turkey, potatoes and gravy, and hopefully, a chocolate pecan pie!

  19. This souffle looks amazing. I get inspiration from walking around the farmers’ markets at this time of year. Will you be posting that apple tart recipe? Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday.
    Thank you!

  20. So beautiful! My mouth is watering as I speak :-)

    We’re probably going to be doing a cold brine on our turkey this year; it comes out juicy and flavorful and absolutely perfect every time. I would love to add these souffles to the menu as well.

  21. Juliana says:

    Although I haven’t celebrated a Thanksgiving dinner in the US in 18 years, it’s the one holiday I “took” with me to Europe and make a special dinner every year. It’s mostly a vegetarian meal with the same ingredients, but different dishes. My grandmother’s cranberry salad is a must, although I have changed it a little over the years. The past two years I’ve made roasted sweet potaotes with rosemary. There is always stuffing with lots of herbs, mashed potatoes sometimes plain, sometimes with goat cheese and sage and a green bean salad. This year the green bean salad will be made with dried beans, a Swiss staple and mixed with cranberries and walnuts. For dessert, I always try something new, but stay within the pumpkin and pecan theme. This year I’d like to try pumpkin pots de crème and maybe a Swiss nut tart (similar to pecan pie but the walnuts).
    Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holiday as it’s all about being with family and sharing good food.

  22. Sini says:

    I love the idea of Thanksgiving. Such a shame we don’t celebrate it here in Northern Europe… But as you said: shouldn’t we be thankful for all the good things in our lives every single day of the year?

  23. i remember ethan talking to us about a book he is writing asking those same questions. i love tradition and learning about others. when i cook certain dishes i could almost here my grandmother sing in the background. this year it will be and my sister claudine, we plan on making a few recipes all vegetarian. every year when my family celebrates we add new dish needles to say our table is always full just like our bellies.

  24. Dena says:

    More amazing photos, and even more amazing food.
    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  25. You can always style something plain to interesting and colorful!! love that squash soufflé!

  26. Jessica says:

    Im determined to begin my own traditions (mostly in the form of formality) for my own family’s traditions. One day, over a dinner party with my parents and my in-laws, my mother in law surveyed the 5 course dinner, wine pairing, calligraphy menus, place cards, and cloth napkins. she looked up at my mother, and asked, “where does this girl get all this from?” my mother replied, “I have no idea.”

    I like to bring a new take to the fall and winter seasons in the means of new (to my family at least) flavors and smells including the amazing fall savories of squash, apples cooked in dishes other than desserts, celery root, leeks, and chestnuts. i enjoy being engulfed of the scents of fall, and didnt realize how much of that i missed out on as a child.

    Until now, neither my mother nor my mother in law really cook using seasonal ingredients (boring, and how could you NOT??) and Im now in charge of holiday meal preparation, which I love!

  27. Thanksgiving with my family is always pretty standard, we stick to tradition. Biggest rule, the stuffing most go inside the bird, despite what people say about it drying out, etc. etc. Ours is always nice and moist. Then there are the sides, everything from mashed potatoes and gravy, to bean salad and even marshmallow salad (I think it’s gross personally but the rest of my family loves it…when were mini marshmallows, coconut, sour cream, mandarin oranges, pineapple and grapes supposed to be combined?). Anyways enjoy the holiday, however you choose to celebrate it. I would definitely add those souffles to my menu!

  28. My inspiration comes from my mother. She was very consistent. We started every Thanksgiving meal with Waldorf salad. I had to prepare the grapes and apples. We had 9 walnut trees on the property & she used our own walnuts. She prepared a large, stuffed roast turkey, basted repeatedly with butter throughout the cooking process. Halfway through the roasting, she’d remove the neck from the roasting pan & I would split it with her or my brother. It was a great treat.

    Mother stuffed the turkey with sage, onion, celery & bread dressing. She also prepared oyster dressing as a side. She always cooked her own cranberries. She prepared buttered peas, sweet potatoes in a brown sugar/butter glaze with melted marshmallows. Mashed potatoes & turkey gravy were the final side. Rolls, crudite, olives and such were in individual dishes on the table. It was overwhelming to say the least.

    Dessert was two pies: a traditional pumpkin and a mince. Mother did not like making pie crust. She loved Pillsbury ready made crust in a box. But she always whipped her own cream!

    I still prepare a nice Thanksgiving meal but I don’t go for all that food. It’s just too much. But the bounty that is associated with Thanksgiving never leaves me. My mom was all about that.

  29. A beautifully inspiring piece. Thank you so much. Fab photos as always.

  30. Mukka1 says:

    I realy love your photos!!
    When I see your job, I feel a huge feeling about to learn how to get some like yours!
    Greetings from Argentina!

  31. chanel says:

    This looks so delicious my empty belly (haven’t had dinner yet) can’t seem to handle it!

    xo chanel

  32. oh boy am i ever nervous to attempt a souffle, never made one. I started planning my Thanksgiving menu last week. We usually do it potluck style with the hosts making the turkey. It gets complicated this year with several vegetarians in the family!

  33. this looks truly delicious, I can’t wait to try it.

  34. Carla says:

    Have just found your blog and find your photography so inspirational, you use such wonderful colour palettes!!

  35. Meg says:

    This looks divine! I’m also drooling over your tablecloth!!

  36. Love the photos! I like following your blog.

  37. Naz & Drew says:

    Beautiful pictures as always Aran! We will be hosting our first Thanksgiving in our new home. I’m planning on starting with an acorn/butternut squash soup with a Persian twist. Do you have any tips on peeling an acorn squash. I find it is almost impossible to cut and peel. Unless I soften it in the oven first.

    Thanks and have a wonderful and delicious holiday,

  38. Cate says:

    This post just made me wish I was celebrating Thanksgiving this year! :)
    Beautiful pictures, like always!

  39. Miz Lucas says:

    No thanksgiving here in london, but boy these pictures got me hungry!

  40. Oh this souffle looks beautiful! I have always been too scared to make souffle, but maybe I will this Thanksgiving – a lighter side dish sounds wonderful. And I begin my Thanksgiving search by looking at all these wonderful food blogs like yours! But of course there are so many classics that have to be made and prepared first…with lots and lots of discussion as to whether ANY one of them can be replaced or tweaked. Its a grand affair.

  41. Shelby says:

    Family potlucks are the very best for Thanksgiving….everyone brings a dish that evokes a certain flavorful memory, Cooked with love and a generous heart… Your souffle sounds both innovative and delicious…enjoy Montana!

  42. a. maren says:

    i have recently had to go gluten and dairy free for health reasons and i love your blog now more than ever. thank you for such beautiful, classy, and healthy recipes!

  43. Great post, I am so glad that I have visited your site. Such a wonderful time reading this.

  44. tori says:

    So beautiful. Am secretly obsessed with idia zabel cheese. Goes so beautifully with anything slightly sweet.

  45. WOW. These images are amazing and everything looks absolutely delicous!


  46. juliana says:

    q linda saliste en la tele! buenisimo el programa!
    no festejamos thanksgiving, asi q no hay menu para esa fecha; si puede llegar a haber un menu tradicional para noche buena, aunq con los años se va perdiendo la costumbre y las familias se van separando en otras familias con otras tradiciones, y asi…

  47. GG says:

    The photos are lovely. I haven’t heard of Idia Zabel cheese but I’ll have to track it down. The souffles look delicious; I want to give them a try. GG

  48. I adore your knack for making the ordinary out to be have great talent. You and your art are fabulous, and quite inspirational!!
    Thank you for sharing your work!

  49. Ilke says:

    Beautiful and simple food…always my favorite.
    I have been only celebrating Thanksgiving for the past 7 years since I married into a great Southern family. I know their dishes always delicious but heavy so my addition to the table is usually a simple vegetable dish. My inspiration comes from what is at the Farmer’s Market and what can be cooked simply with a few ingredients. Definitely tones down the stress of getting ready :)

  50. Annette says:

    It looks beautiful and I think it will taste great. We are getting in the mood and thanks for your idea.

  51. Christine Bridson-Jones says:

    Your site looks truly scrumptious!

  52. Mona says:

    Beautiful post, as always!!
    Enjoy your time in Montana ……. I am jealous, I love it there too!!!

  53. Lily says:

    This looks delicious, warming, and comforting. I love your photography too!

  54. Rob Johnson says:

    Great post and great food sensory! Love the photography as well!

  55. Radu says:

    I’m a huge fan of gingerbread cookies. I don’t know if i can leave without them. For what is worth i like ginger cakes more than skittles.

  56. idiazabal is not used enough and its a shame! smells and tastes a bit like cooked bacon, which is always a good thing. xx apple tart is heaven looking.

  57. Your pictures are gorgeous and the food looks amazing! ~ Naomi

  58. […] Canille et Vanille: Kabocha Squash, Idiasabal and Herb Souffle […]

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