Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Roasted butternut squash and red onion with tahini and za'atar

I wanted something colourful and summery that fits into the vegetarian category (I know, don't be too alarmed) but that also keeps hunger locked up until the next decent bacon fix. Not an easy task, I must say. Of course my main man Ottolenghi came prancing over the hills, as he often does, with another wonderous answer to all my vegetable questions. 

Taken from his wonderful book Jerusalem, this is another of Ottolenghi's creations which ticks all the scrumptious, beautiful and impressive boxes. Much like his green couscous, this dish will be a fabulous accompaniment to summer occasions like BBQ's and picnics. Transporting it? Onion and squash tucked in a tupperware for the journey and ceremoniously unveiled on the other side to be elegantly garnished with the impossibly delicious trimmings of tahini dressing, parsley and pine nuts. Or, smush it all together and eat it out of the tupperware with a fork. Either way tastes great. I actually ate this the latter way as work-lunch for a couple of days in a row and it did not disappoint.

It's a bit different from your usual potato salad and will fill bellies if you have a BBQ burning disaster or your chicken skewers all fall into the flames. Worth a shot I'd say. 

Roasted butternut squash and red onion with tahini and za'atar
...taken from Ottolenghi's Jerusalem

Timings: 1 hour
Kitchen Stuff: baking sheet, platter, little bowl
Quantities: Serves 4 - 6 

1 large butternut squash (around 1.1kg), cut into 2cm x 6cm wedges (without peeling)
2 red onions, cut into 3cm wedges
50ml olive oil
Maldon sea salt and black pepper
3½ tbsp tahini paste (give it a good stir before you measure it out)
1½ tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp water
1 small garlic clove, crushed
30g pine nuts
1 tbsp za'atar
1 tbsp roughly chopped parsley


Preheat the oven to 220C/425F.

1. ONIONS & SQUASH: Put the squash and onions in a large bowl, add three tablespoons of oil, a teaspoon of salt and some black pepper, and toss well. Spread, skin down, on a baking sheet and roast for 40 minutes until the vegetables have taken on some colour and are cooked through. Keep an eye on the onions: they may cook faster than the squash, so may need to be removed earlier. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

2. TAHINI DRESSING: Put the tahini in a small bowl with the lemon juice, water, garlic and a quarter-teaspoon of salt. Whisk to the consistency of honey, adding more water or tahini as necessary.

3. PINE NUTS: Pour the remaining oil into a small frying pan on a medium-low heat. Add the pine nuts and half a teaspoon of salt, cook for two minutes, stirring, until the nuts are golden brown, then tip the nuts and oil into a small bowl. Watch them carefully as they burn quickly!

4. SERVE: To serve, spread the onions and squash on a fancy platter and drizzle over the sauce. Scatter the pine nuts and oil on top, followed by the za'atar and chopped parsley.

Pre za'atar and parsley shot. Ignore the rocket, he crept in uninvited.