Butternut squash is a staple in my kitchen during fall and winter, but I never stray far from simple roasted cubes or a creamy pureed soup. But after preparing the Roasted Butternut Squash and Red Onion with Tahini and Za'atar in Jerusalem: A Cookbook, I am a total devotee of pairing winter squash with sesame.
Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi have you roast the squash and onion in generous chunks in a super hot oven and then let them cool to room temperature. For serving, the vegetables are drizzled with a rich tahini-lemon-garlic sauce the texture of good honey, sprinkled generously with za'atar, and garnished with toasted pine nuts.
Why I picked this recipe: Butternut squash are everywhere these days, and this recipe offered up a nice change from my usual olive oil-brown sugar combo.
What worked: The flavors here are incredible--the earthy tahini is a perfect match to the sweet squash and onion, while the za'atar adds a pop of sharp, herby pungency and the pine nuts offer richness and a bit of textural contrast.
What didn't: Be sure to drizzle the sauce on top of the vegetable instead of mixing it in. My leftovers turned murky and a bit chalky once the sauce had soaked into the vegetables.
Suggested tweaks: You could treat just about any root vegetable or tuber like this. Next time, I'm definitely making this with a blend of winter squash.
Reprinted with permission from Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, copyright 2012. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.
- Yield:serves 4
- Active time: 30 minutes
- Total time:60 to 70 minutes
- 1 large butternut squash (2 1/4 lb /1.1 kg in total), cut into 3/4 by 2 1/2-inch/2 cm by 6 cm wedges
- 2 red onions, cut into 1 1/4-inch/3 cm wedges
- 3 1/2 tablespoons/50 ml olive oil
- 3 1/2 tablespoons light tahini paste
- 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 small clove garlic, crushed
- 3 1/2 tablespoons/30 g pine nuts
- 1 tablespoon za’atar
- 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 475°F / 240°C. Put the squash and onion in a large mixing bowl, add 3 tablespoons of the oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and some black pepper and toss well. Spread on a baking sheet with the skin facing down and roast in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until the vegetables have taken on some color and are cooked through. Keep an eye on the onions as they might cook faster than the squash and need to be removed earlier. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
To make the sauce, place the tahini in a small bowl along with the lemon juice, water, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Whisk until the sauce is the consistency of honey, adding more water or tahini if necessary
Pour the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil into a small frying pan and place over medium-low heat. Add the pine nuts along with 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook for 2 minutes, stirring often, until the nuts are golden brown. Remove from the heat and transfer the nuts and oil to a small bowl to stop the cooking.
To serve, spread the vegetables out on a large serving platter and drizzle over the tahini. Sprinkle the pine nuts and their oil on top, followed by the za’atar and parsley.