Monday, February 18, 2008

Adaptation Salad (Warm Butternut and Chickpea Salad with Tahini)

I adapted this recipe from Smitten Kitchen, after Smitten Kitchen adapted it from Orangette, who adapted it from the Casa Moro cookbook. Needless to say, its an exciting mix of flavors, and satisfies a range of palates! Next time, I'll dust the finished dish with ground sumac for a little added visual flair.

1 medium butternut squash (about 2 to 2 ½ lb.), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1 ½-inch pieces
1 medium garlic clove, pressed
½ tsp. ground allspice
2 Tbsp. olive oil
One 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
¼ of a medium red onion, finely chopped
¼ cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves

Tahini sauce:
1 medium garlic clove, finely minced with a pinch of salt
3 ½ Tbsp. lemon juice
3 Tbsp. well-stirred tahini
2 Tbsp. water
2 Tbsp. olive oil, plus more to taste

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large bowl, combine the butternut squash, garlic, allspice, olive oil, and a good 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 15 to 25 minutes, or until soft. Remove from the oven and cool.

Meanwhile, make the tahini sauce. 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. Add more olive oil to taste, if the dressing is too sharp.

To assemble the salad, combine the squash, chickpeas, onion, and cilantro in a mixing bowl. Add tahini sauce to taste, and toss carefully. Serve, with additional salt for sprinkling.

This salad, lightly dressed, keeps well in the fridge. Hold a little of the tahini sauce on the side, for dressing at the table. Before serving, warm slightly in the microwave.

Yield: 4 servings

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