Just a quick post (and recipe) tonight because I’m running out the door and I’m already late for a party.
I fashioned the photographs after the ones in the cookbook to reflect the authors’ cooking philosophy. In their first cookbook collaboration, Ottolenghi: The Cookbook, the pair explains, “Like the market vendor, we make the best of what we have and don’t interfere with it too much. We keep foods as natural as possible, deliberately avoiding complicated cooking methods.” Their cooking technique keeps ingredients close to their origins; for example, they eschew tiny brunoise dicing in favor of bite-sized chunks to allow each individual element to shine.
I suspect this approach to food, the analogy to the market vendor displaying his wares, is very much informed by their childhoods in a country where markets remain a significant part of cultural and daily life. We can talk more about this, but I’ve got a birthday to celebrate (not mine – that’s in a few weeks).
See you back here tomorrow morning. Well, actually probably more like afternoon.
Roasted butternut squash and red onion with tahina and za’atar
Adapted from Jerusalem: A Cookbook. The combination of roasting and za’atar give the dish a smoky flavor. Feel free to experiment with other types of squash and pumpkin – just adjust the roasting time accordingly. You probably won’t need all of the tahina sauce – just drizzle lightly and add more if necessary.
Serves 4 as a side dish
- 1 large butternut squash (about 2 – 2 ½ lbs)
- 2 red onions
- 4 T olive oil, divided
- 3 heaping T tahina
- 1 lemon for juice (approximately 2-3 T, depending on your lemon)
- 1 T water
- 1 clove garlic
- 3 T pine nuts
- 1 T za’atar
- 1 T coarsely chopped parsley (optional)
- Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 475˚F.
Cut. Peel and seed squash, and cut into thin (3/4–inch) wedges approximately 2-inches long. Cut the onions into 1-inch wedges.
Mix. In a large bowl, toss the squash and onions with 3 tablespoons of oil, and sprinkle with a few pinches of salt and a few grinds of pepper.
Roast. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Spread the vegetables on the sheet and roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes. They’re ready when they start to brown and are tender. The onions will probably cook faster than the squash, so check and remove them early if necessary so they don’t burn.
Whisk. While the vegetables are roasting, place in a bowl the tahina, 1½ tablespoon lemon juice, water, and minced garlic. Whisk until the sauce is the consistency of honey, adding water or tehina if necessary. Taste for seasoning and add salt, pepper, and more lemon juice if you’d like.
Toast. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a small pan over medium-low heat. Add the pine nuts with a pinch of salt and cook for 2-3 minutes until the nuts start to brown. Remove from the heat and transfer the nuts into a small bowl to stop the cooking.
Serve. To serve, spread the vegetables on a platter, drizzle with tahina (you probably won’t need all of it), and sprinkle with za’atar, pine nuts, and parsley (if using). I like to eat this at room temperature.