Friday, October 19, 2012

Warm Butternut Squash and Chickpea Salad with Tahini

A friend once noted that despite living in Southern California, she could always tell when the sun was shining in Seattle. Because of all of the ohmygosh look at the sunshine! posts on Twitter. Sunlight can be so sporadic in the rainy Northwest that people feel compelled to note its presence on the rare times that it shines forth. Likewise, I can always tell when the season is turning to autumn. Because of all of the winter squash posts on the food blogs.

Not that I can blame people. The coming darkness of winter can be a bit hard to handle, especially after the endless warm summer evenings. And did I mention the rain? But winter squashes — butternut, kabocha, hubbard, delicate — are some of the best consolation prizes. They're dense and sweet, healthy, and their penchant for oven-roasting has the lovely side effect of warming up the kitchen on these cold days we're not quite yet accustomed to. And they're delicious. Especially in salads like this.

This recipe comes from the folks behind the Moro restaurant, who specialize in the Moorish cuisine that was at one time common in Spain. In some ways this dish reminds the lovely roasted eggplant with saffron yogurt I recently tried — a produce-driven recipe of simple ingredients in an unexpected combination. Rich golden chunks of squash are roasted until sweet and butter soft, then combined with whole chickpeas, red onions, garbanzos and cilantro. Then the whole thing is dressed with a nutty, lemony tahini sauce. It's got some winter heft with the warm squash, but still a last hurrah of sunny brightness. Perfect for the early days of autumn (because, in case you haven't heard, it's pretty much here).

Warm Butternut Squash and Chickpea Salad with Tahini

adapted from Casa Moro
serves ~4

1 medium butternut squash (about 2 to 2 ½ lb.), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1 ½-inch cubes
1 clove garlic, pressed
½ tsp ground allspice
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups cooked chickpeas (either drained from a can or cooked up yourself)
¼ of a medium red onion, finely chopped
1 handful coarsely chopped cilantro leaves (I opted to leave them whole, for a bit more pretty)

Tahini Sauce:
3 Tbsp tahini
1 clove garlic, pressed
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 Tbsp olive oil
2-4 Tbsp water, as needed
hefty pinch sugar
salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large bowl, combine the squash cubes, garlic, allspice, olive oil, and a 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 20-30 minutes, or until soft. Remove from the oven and cool.

Meanwhile, make the tahini sauce. In a small bowl, whisk together the tahini, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and the smaller amount of water. Add the sugar and salt, taste for seasoning, then add additional water until it thins to a thick-yet-pourable consistency.

To assemble the salad, scatter the squash, chickpeas, onion, and cilantro on a serving bowl or individual plates. Dress with the tahini sauce, and serve.


  1. The reverse happens to me--I can always tell when it's raining in SoCal because of the flurry of tweets. :) Of course, I do it too! This salad looks so great--I love the tahini dressing.

  2. Have you tried the wood fire roasted delicata squash at Tastebuds? It is in their winter salad-delicious. I am going to try this recipe-thanks

    1. I haven't tried that. But oh I want to now...