Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Warm Butternut and Chickpea Salad with Tahini

I'm not sure why I'm still thinking about ways to incorporate squash into dinners, it's March after all. I thought I had eaten enough squash back in October, November and December to last me the year.

It started with learning this easy way to take the hard shell off the buttercup, kabocha and red kari varieties.

Cut the squash in nearly half, then cut the half in crescent moon segments. Lay each segment on its side and cut the shell off, inch by inch as you work your way around the crescent.

I came across this posting for Warm Butternut and Chickpea Salad with Tahini. Served warm, this salad is perfect- delicious, hardy, comforting yet with a hint of something a little different (it's called tahini). All that was needed to complete was some crusty dinner rolls and butter. I've repeated the recipe here just so I have an easy access copy, but I encourage you to click over and take a look at Orangette.

Warm Butternut and Chickpea Salad with Tahini (Serves 4)
adapted from Casa Moro

1 medium buttercup squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 garlic clove, minced
½ teaspoon ground allspice
2 tablespoons olive oil
14 ounce (398 ml) can of 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 ½ tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons well-stirred tahini
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more to taste

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine the squash, garlic, allspice, olive oil, and a good pinch or two of salt. Using a large spoon or your hands, toss until the squash pieces are evenly coated. Turn them out onto a baking sheet, and bake for 15 to 25 minutes, or until soft. Remove from the oven and cool.

Meanwhile, 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. The sauce should have plenty of nutty tahini flavor, but also a little kick of lemon. (I found that my tahini was a little bitter and that the lemon was a bit much, so I added additional olive oil to tame both.)

To assemble the salad, combine the squash, chickpeas, onion, and cilantro in a mixing bowl. Add tahini sauce to taste, and toss carefully. (Alternatively, you can also serve the salad undressed, with the tahini sauce on the side. That way, each person can use as much or as little as they want). Enjoy.

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