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Diwali Sweets for All

We have last-minute recipes for the festival of lights and weeknight recipes that make use of delicata and butternut squash.

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By Melissa Clark

It’s Diwali, a five-day festival of lights observed throughout South Asia and its diaspora. If you’re celebrating, you’ve probably already got your menu sorted out. Regardless, you can browse our collection of Diwali recipes for all manner of inspiration.

There, you’ll find Hetal Vasavada’s peanut laddoo buckeye balls (above), a favorite in our house that riffs on the classic Midwestern candy. And I haven’t been able to stop making Tejal Rao’s cardamom-scented shrikhand (sweetened strained yogurt studded with pistachios) since she wrote about it in 2016. Speckled with saffron, it’s a perfect special-occasion dessert.

So, what else are you going to cook this week? We’ve got two excellent new recipes in the winter squash department. Kay Chun’s roasted delicata squash and mushrooms has a clever, herby twist: a topping of ranch-inspired whipped ricotta. And Vallery Lomas’s simple roasted butternut squash, spiked with cayenne and cinnamon, is an easy, fragrant side dish that you might want to bookmark for Thanksgiving.

As a soup enthusiast, I think soup season should last all year. But now is the best time to reach for your chunkiest, heartiest, most rib-sticking recipes. You wouldn’t make a smoky split pea soup in summer, but it’s ideal as we pull out our slippers and turn on the heat. Same with this thick and stew-like slow-cooker mulligatawny, with chicken, lentils and coconut cream.

While the soup simmers, you could bake a not-too-sweet cornbread to serve alongside, or a sweeter, moist-centered pumpkin bread (which is really cake, who are we kidding?). Or these savory four-cheese flatbreads, which come together quickly using premade naan, flatbread or pita. The recipe calls for corn kernels (fresh, or frozen and thawed), but you can leave them out. A drizzle of hot honey on top wouldn’t hurt.

You will, however, need a subscription for the recipes. If you subscribe to New York Times Cooking right now, you will support our work and join a wonderfully opinionated community of passionate cooks. You can also check us out on YouTube, TikTok and Instagram, where I made my brown butter orzo with butternut squash. Find that recipe here. If you’re inspired to make it, you can drop me a line at [email protected] I love hearing from you!

Now, I’ve had a longtime affection for the musician Jonathan Richman and got to see him perform again last week in Williamsburg. His radical positivity really hits the spot right now, because he doesn’t dodge the sticky parts. On his latest EP, “Cold Pizza & Other Hot Stuff,” he sings about that moment when the party has to end: “Cold pizza, and a Coke with no fizz; it’s neither bad nor good, just sort of is what it is.”

For teenagers all over the world, the party came to a full stop in the spring semester of 2020. My colleague Katherine Schulten, in conjunction with The Learning Network of The New York Times, has documented this in “Coming of Age in 2020,” a heart-wrenching, funny book of stories, musings, photography and art by high school students all over the country about how they made it through that year. “Instead of proms and championship games and all-night hangouts with friends,” Katherine writes, all they got was “school on Zoom from bed.”

While the world outside their bedrooms loudly turned upside down, teenagers recorded their frustrations, despair, boredom and anxiety — but also plenty of humor, breathtaking insight and resilient seeds of hope.

I think over the last few years many of us have had to settle for cold pizza. But let’s not forget that cold pizza is still pretty delicious.

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