Roasted Butternut Squash and Red Onion with Tahini and Za’atar
Adapted from Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
I don’t normally insist on certain cookbooks beings a must-own in your library, but I really think you can’t go wrong with this book. The recipes are fantastic and straightforward, and while you might have to get a few “exotic” ingredients like tahini, za’atar, or date syrup, it’s well worth the investment. These ingredients will enable you to flavor your food differently, expand your palate, and make you a better cook. If you don’t have a Middle Eastern shop near you (I am, at the moment, very lucky in that department), there’s always Kalustyan’s which has all three of the above ingredients, and then some.
1 medium butternut squash (about 624 grams; 22 ounces) peeled and cut into 1×2 1/2 inch pieces
1 large red onion, cut into eighths
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
1 1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt, divided plus additional to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons tahini paste
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 small garlic clove, pounded into a paste
3 tablespoons (30 grams; about 1.2 ounces) pine nuts
1 tablespoon za’atar
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Flaky sea salt
1. Heat the oven to 475 degrees F with the rack positioned in the middle.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the squash and onion and 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, 1 teaspoon fine sea salt, and a few twists of the pepper grinder. Toss until the ingredients are combined. Spread the vegetables on a shallow baking sheet, leaving them enough “breathing” room and roast in the oven 25 to 35 minutes, or until the vegetables have taken on some color and are cooked through. You’ll want to see a little bit of charring, though not too much. Keep an eye out on the onion; you may need to pick it out earlier. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
3. While the vegetables are roasting, make the sauce. Place the tahini I a small bowl along with 2 tablespoons of water, lemon juice, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt. Whisk until the sauce is the consistency of honey. You might need to add more water or tahini, depending.
4. Pour the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil into a small skillet and place over medium-low heat. Add the pine nuts along with 1/2 teaspoon of fine sea salt, and cook, stirring often until the nuts are golden brown, about 2 minutes. Remove fro the heat and transfer both: the nuts and the oil to a small bowl (otherwise the nuts will continue to cook).
5. To serve, spread the vegetables out on a large plate or a serving platter, and drizzle over the tahini. Sprinkle the pine nuts and their oil on top, followed by za’atar and the parsley. Add a few flakes of the flaky sea salt and serve.
Serves 2 to 4.