Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Roasted Acorn Squash and Onion with Tahini and Za'atar

I think it is time for me to stop buying so much squash at the farmers' market.  Every week I see a new variety and pick up more squash.  So we have been battling our ever expanding squash selection little by little.  Right now I have a stripetti squash at home (which is apparently a cross between a delicata squash and a spaghetti squash).  Once I read the little blurb claiming that it was a cross between a delicata and a spaghetti squash I couldn't resist buying a stripetti squash because those are my two favorite squash varities.  But I think we are about to hit Alex's squash tolerance soon and I am running out of new and inventive ways to cook squash.  So I might take a week or two off and then go back to buying more squash.  I am still determined to buy some more new squash varieties, but we just need a break until we use up all of the squash we have and until I come up with some new recipes.  I definitely want to make some soup and to also make some baked goods.  This Pumpkin Pecan-Praline Pie from Martha Stewart sounds particularly tempting and it might just be tempting enough for me to break my no pie rule...  Probably not though.

This recipe by Yottam Ottolenghi was one of two of his recipes that I had set aside for future squash experimentation this fall.  We had to make a number of modifications to the recipe becase we had acorn squash instead of butternut squash, we were out of pine nuts and we only had half of a red onion left, but we had a Vidalia onion in the pantry.  But we tried to stay true to the rest of the recipe as much as possible.  As with all Yottam Ottolenghi recipes my first thought upon tasting the dish was "this is interesting."  He combines ingredients in ways that I would never contemplate on my own (although the combinations might be totally commonplace to someone of Middle Eastern descent) and I find myself having to re-evaluate flavor combinations every time we make one of his recipes.  This was neither our most successful, nor our least successful Yottam Ottolenghi dish.  I liked it, but I would like to try it again as written and see how that changes things.  Acorn squash has always seemed a little starchier and less sweet than butternut squash to me and I think that this recipe would benefit from a slightly sweeter, moister squash.  We also incinerated our onions a bit because we lost track of time.  The onions that were salvagable were really delicious with the squash and the seasonings.  This is one of the few times that perhaps sticking to the recipe as written might have been the way to go...

Recipe after the jump!

Roasted Acorn Squash and Onion with Tahini and Za'atar
Adapted from Bon Appetit
by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

2 medium acorn squash (or 1 large butternut squash)
2 onions, cut into 1 inch wedges (we used a mix of sweet onion and red onion)
3 tbsp, plus 1 tsp evoo (separated)
3 tbsp tahini paste
1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp water
1 small clove garlic, crushed
1/4 cup pistachios (original recipe called for pine nuts but we were out)
1 tbsp za'atar
1 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.

Put the squash and onion in a large mixing bowl, add 3 tablespoons evoo, 1 tsp salt, and some black pepper.  Toss well.  Spread on a rimmed baking sheet with the skin facing down and roast in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until the vegetables have taken on some color and are cooked through. Keep an eye on the onions as they might cook faster than the squash and might need to be removed earlier (we should definitely have removed ours after 25-30 minutes). Remove from the oven and leave to cool.  To make the sauce, place the tahini in a small bowl along with the lemon juice, water, garlic, and 1/4 tsp salt.  Whisk until the sauce is the consistency of honey, adding more water or tahini if necessary.  Season to taste with additional salt or lemon juice (if desired).

Pour the remaining 1 1/2 tsp oil into a small frying pan and place over medium-low heat. Add the pistachios along with 1/2 tsp salt and cook for 2 minutes, stirring often, until the nuts are golden brown and fragrant. Remove from the heat and transfer the nuts and oil to a small bowl to stop the cooking.

To serve, spread the vegetables out on a large serving platter and drizzle with the tahini mixture. Sprinkle the nuts and their oil on top, followed by the za'atar and parsley.


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