Wednesday, January 28, 2009

warm butternut squash and chickpea salad

butternut chickpea salad

I’ve confessed again and again that I’m just not the kind of person who likes to eat things repeatedly. What’s bad for, I don’t know, using up leftovers, however, is good for having the kind of site that updates three times a week with new recipes. So I’d say it all evens out. But every so often, actually — way too rarely, rarely — I hit on something that I cannot stop eating. For weeks, months. And now, we’re over a year and I’m telling you, if I had a butternut squash at home right now, we’d already have dinner made.

peeled butternut squash

I’ve mentioned this salad before but I realize that this is one of those recipes I’m going to refresh as often as I can get away with. The second I had these ingredients together — lemon, tahini, butternut squash, garlic, chickpeas — I couldn’t believe it was the first time. They were made to be together, and in the times that I’ve had them apart in other recipes, I always know what they’re missing.

butternut squash

The recipe comes from Molly Wizenberg of Orangette, who adapted it from a cookbook from the UK’s Moro restaurant, but I always forget that part because it’s somehow a quintessential Orangette recipe to me. Molly’s first book comes out this spring and to say that I’m just looking forward to reading it — and making more where has this recipe been my whole life-level favorites like this — might be the understatement of all understatements. To hold me over until it comes out, though, I know exactly what I’ll be eating.

butternut chickpea tahini salad

One year ago: Rigatoni with Eggplant Puree
Two years ago: Icebox Cake

Warm Butternut and Chickpea Salad with Tahini Dressing
Adapted from Orangette, who adapted it from Casa Moro

Yield: 4 servings

For salad:
1 medium butternut squash (about 2 to 2 1/2 pounds), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium garlic clove, minced or pressed
1/2 teaspoons ground allspice (I skip this)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt
One 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (1 1/2 cups)
1/4 of a medium red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

For tahini dressing:
1 medium garlic clove, finely minced with a pinch of salt
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons well-stirred tahini
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more to taste

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

In a large bowl, combine the butternut squash, garlic, allspice, olive oil, and a few pinches of salt. Toss the squash pieces until evenly coated. Roast them on a baking sheet for 25 minutes, or until soft. Remove from the oven and cool.

Meanwhile, make the tahini dressing: 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. You will probably need to add more water to thin it out.

To assemble the salad, combine the squash, chickpeas, onion, and cilantro or parsley in a mixing bowl. Either add the tahini dressing to taste, and toss carefully, or you could serve the salad with the dressing on the side. Serve immediately.

Do ahead: Molly says this salad, lightly dressed, keeps beautifully in the fridge, that you should hold a little of the dressing on the side and that it can be reheated in the microwave. I, for one, have never had any leftovers.


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