Monday, November 19, 2012

Butternut Squash and Chickpea Tahini Salad

Perfect Pairing:  Thanksgiving
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How is it almost Thanksgiving?  Seriously, where did the last few months go?  It seems like everyone I talk to feels the same way.  What kind of weird time warp are we in right now?
Weird time warp aside, I live for this time of year.  Gathering with family and friends is my favorite thing in the entire world. Add in great food, good wine, games, laughter, and you pretty much have perfection.  My family kicked off the holiday season a little early this year.  We had a “pre-Thanksgiving” celebration since we could not all be together on the actual holiday.  It was a great time! 
 My mom and I have it pretty easy for the actual Thanksgiving dinner.  We have been tasked with dessert and stuffing.  I actually insisted that we make the stuffing, because my mom’s stuffing is without a doubt the highlight of the Thanksgiving meal.  She does not really follow a recipe, but it includes sausage and dried cherries.  Amazing.
Also amazing?  Butternut Squash and Chickpea Tahini Salad.  I ran across this recipe on Smitten Kitchen while searching for recipes that used tahini, and thought it looked unique and healthy.  I had only used tahini in hummus and had a jar hanging out in my pantry begging to be used.  I am so glad I ran across the salad recipe, it is absolutely delicious.  The roasted squash is slightly sweet and pairs nicely with the nutty tahini and fresh cilantro and red onion. 
The Perfect Pairing for Butternut Squash and Chickpea Tahini Salad is Thanksgiving.  If you are looking for a great side dish to bring to your family’s table, this just might be it.  I found that I can make the dressing and roast the squash the day before and then assemble before the meal.
Butternut Squash and Chickpea Tahini Salad
Adapted by Lindsay at Perfecting the Pairing from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients:
Salad:
·         1 butternut squash (about 2 pounds), peeled, seeded and cubed
·         2 cloves of garlic, chopped
·         2 Tb olive oil
·         Salt and pepper
·         15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
·         1 small red onion, chopped
·         ½ cup cilantro, chopped
Dressing:
·         3 Tb tahini, excess oil poured off and stirred well
·         2 Tb lemon juice, more to taste
·         2 Tb olive oil
·         1 Tb water
·         1 tsp honey
·         Salt and pepper
Directions:
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Toss the cubed squash with the garlic, two tablespoons olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.  Spread into an even layer on a greased cookie sheet.  Roast in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, tossing occasionally until the squash is tender.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. 
Meanwhile, combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until evenly combined.  Add a small amount of water or olive oil to thin out the dressing.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Once the squash has cooled place in a large bowl, add the chickpeas, red onion, and cilantro.  Stir gently to combine.  Add in the dressing in batches, stirring to coat the salad.  Add more dressing to taste.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

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