Besides having been christened with the most appealing name among squashkind, the butternut, in my mind, reigns supreme in flavour and versatility. I have trouble holding myself back from any recipe with butternut in the title. It’s like those purple monsters from Sesame Street get into my subconscious and start murmuring butter; nut, over and over again until I just melt like a pat of butter on a hot nut. Ok, that was awful, but what were you expecting?
When my explorations led me to Orangette’s recipe for Warm Butternut and Chickpea Salad with Tahini, it seemed like a perfectly logical thing to make for a special dinner companion on Saturday. Salad is a staple around these parts; I like to have one available with every meal I serve. But it’s winter, and the fresh crispy coolness of the salad just doesn’t cut it like it does in the summer. So all I had to read were the words warm and salad in the same sentence and I was hooked. Not to mention the butternut thing.
In spite of the rest of the meal’s merit (augmented by the fact that it was the first time I’ve ever cooked a pork tenderloin and it turned out simply mah-velous), today I chose to highlight the little guy — the side dish. I’m a big advocate of vegetables and I think they deserve just as much of the spotlight as the big meaty mains. So move over porky.
Warm Butternut and Chickpea Salad with Tahini
serves at least 6 as a side
1 medium butternut squash (about 2 to 2 ½ lb.), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1 ½-inch pieces
1 medium garlic clove, pressed
½ tsp. ground allspice
2 Tbsp. olive oil
One 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
¼ of a medium red onion, finely chopped
¼ cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves
For tahini sauce:
1 medium garlic clove, finely minced with a pinch of salt
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. well-stirred tahini
2 Tbsp. water
2 Tbsp. olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit
- Combine the butternut squash, garlic, allspice, olive oil, and a pinch of salt in a large bowl. Toss until the squash pieces are evenly coated. Bake on a large non stick cookie sheet for 20 to 25 minutes, or until soft. Remove from the oven and cool.
- While you wait, make the tahini sauce. In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic and lemon juice. Add the tahini, and whisk to blend. Add the water and olive oil, whisk well, and taste for seasoning. Adjust according to how tart/nutty/mild you want your dressing, adding lemon juice/tahini/olive oil respectively.
- Combine the squash, chickpeas, onion, and cilantro in a mixing bowl. Add tahini sauce to taste, and stir or toss carefully. You may also serve the salad ‘naked,’ with the dressing on the side. The ingredients will appear brighter this way, and people can adjust their own seasoning.
*This salad keeps very well in the fridge. Just pop it in the microwave for a minute or so before indulging. I’m also excited to try it over pasta.
courtesy of Casa Moro