I first really noticed butternut squash when I was living in the UK. It is enormously popular in soups and sometimes in curries although I had never eaten it or cooked with it due to a lifelong aversion to any vegetable in the squash family. Feeling that I should act like a grown-up and give it another chance, I made one of Ottolenghi’s fabulous recipes, a smashing winter couscous that called for roasted butternut squash with some lovely Moroccan spices like rose Harissa. It was amazing! Butternut squash is also an excellent substitute for pumpkin in the American classic, pumpkin pie, something else I really enjoy on special occasions. Mombasa has a lot of butternut squash (something I found a little odd initially as it is known as a winter squash and Mombasa is very tropical but they are actually annual plants best cultivated in warmer climes!) and the second time I cooked with it was for a delicious squash and kale stir fry, which will be in the Cook to Jhoom book. Butternut Squash is low in calories, just 45 calories per 100g; it has many vital poly phenolic anti-oxidants and vitamins like Vitamin A, and the B-complex group of vitamins like folate, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamine, and pantothenic acid. Like pumpkin, it contains good levels of iron, zinc, copper, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus. Moreover, squash seeds are a good source of dietary fiber and mono-unsaturated fatty acids that are good for the heart and they are also very high in protein.
Butternut Squash is delicious in curries. The slight sweetness marries very well with spices like turmeric, cumin, cardamom, cinnamon and coriander. I have thought about making a roasted butternut squash salad for a while now and yesterday I finally got round to it. I wasn’t sure about the dressing at first. Something tangy like a red wine or balsamic vinaigrette would go really well with the spicy and sweet squash but I wanted something more Eastern and got my inspiration from Lebanese Tahini. The roasted nuttiness of the sesame seeds, with garlic, lime juice, herbs and cooling yogurt worked so well with squash I wanted to eat a massive bowl full. This salad is full of good nutrition: fibrous carbohydrates, good fats from the olive oil and light tahini and a good amount of protein.I regularly cook with butternut squash now, it is nutritious, delicious and so versatile, and the seeds can be roasted for a yummy snack or as a crunchy addition to salads, which I also did yesterday.
Spicy Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with a Yogurt-Tahini-Herb dressing
Preparation and Cooking Time: 45 minutes
For the roasted butternut squash
1 medium butternut squash (850g raw weight, 700g after peeling and de-seeding), sliced in half lengthways, then again into quarters lengthways, and then into 1cm thick wedges, see photo below
1 large onion (150g), quartered and then sliced into wedges, see photo below
Butternut squash and onion wedges, before cooking
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin powder
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika (smoked paprika if you can get it)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder (or crush the seeds of 8 green cardamoms)
2 tablespoons olive oil
For the Yogurt-Tahini-Herb dressing (makes 3 Tbsps of dressing per person)
1 cup (230g) low-fat yogurt or coconut yogurt for vegans
2 tablespoons (40g) light Tahini
Juice of 1 1/2 limes (lemons will also do)
1 fat clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup for vegans
2 heaped tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander
1 heaped tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons water
Salt and pepper to taste
Other salad ingredients (do experiment with other vegetables and legumes like avocados, chickpeas, broad beans, cucumber, artichokes, courgettes, mangetout – I used what I had in the fridge)
150g mixed salad greens (lettuce, baby spinach, rocket, cress etc…)
1 cup (150g) cherry tomatoes, halved or left whole if really tiny
1 large yellow pepper, thinly sliced (180g)
1 cup (150g) chopped beetroot (that has been boiled/roasted – readily available in most supermarkets)
4 tablespoons roasted pumpkin/squash seeds, see photo below (this was to add crunch and protein to the salad; you can also add nuts like walnuts and pecans for a more indulgent crunch or whole-wheat croutons/pita chips)
Pumpkin/Squash seeds are readily available in most supermarkets but as I couldn’t find any I made my own by washing the butternut squash seeds, drying them in a hot pan and then dry toasting them in the pan with very little oil, stirring constantly until they started to get some colour and pop. They’re delicious!
Preheat oven to 200C/180 fan-assisted/Gas Mark 6
Start with the squash. In a large bowl, blend the oil and spices into a paste and then throw in the chopped butternut squash and onion wedges. Add some salt and toss together so that the vegetables are well coated.
Spread them out on a baking tray and roast on the middle shelf of the oven for 15-20 minutes, the squash should be fork tender and starting to brown. Take them out and let them cool to room temperature.
While the vegetables are roasting, prepare the dressing by whisking together the yogurt, tahini, honey, lime juice, water and minced garlic. Add the chopped herbs and some salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning/sourness to your liking. Put aside while you prepare the rest of your salad ingredients as suggested above.
Butternut squash and onion wedges, after roasting
When the butternut squash and onions have cooled, lay then on a bed of salad greens and the remaining salad ingredients, except the seeds. Scatter the seeds on top of the butternut squash and serve the dressing on the side. This salad is gorgeous – to look at and in taste!
Per serving (with 3 tablespoons of dressing with regular yogurt): Calories 338, Protein 11g, Carbohydrate 44g, Sugars 15g, Fat 16g, Saturates 2g, Fibre 7g. A good source of Magnesium, Potassium and Manganese, and a very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Vitamin K.
For the regular yogurt dressing alone, per 3 tablespoon serving: Calories 106, Protein 5g, Carbohydrate 6g, Sugars 5g, Fat 7g, Saturates 1g, Fibre 0g. A good source of Calcium and Magnesium.
This recipe is off to Ricki’s fabulous Wellness Weekend May 31-June 12th, 2012 and Slightly Indulgent Tuesday 5/29/12
A feast for all the senses!