It’s getting chilly again here at the computer in our spare bedroom, the apple tree loaded with snow, the sky grey, the furnace raging. I’m wearing a fleece and my thickest woolly socks, the ones that I believe helped facilitate my trip down the stairs the day before Christmas. I just can’t get into a bowl of spring greens. It turns out I also can’t live on toast and coffee, icing and cheese.
I bought a couple cookbooks that I totally didn’t need. One is called Casa Moro, and in it is this warm butternut salad with chickpeas and tahini dressing. (You’d think after all that cookbook testing I’d be done with beans – actually I’ve been craving them more and more.) I’m a fan of all things roasted – the tahini dressing is just a bonus. (Remember the potato salad with kale? And the stir fried brown rice with chickpeas and asparagus?) Who woulda thought tahini dressing would wind up being my thing? Here I grew up thinking it was Twinkies.
I’ve never been that creative when it comes to salads. Which is weird, because really anything goes when you make a salad – it’s like the ultimate opportunity to play with your food, with minimal risk of screwing up (unlike baking). But it’s exactly the sort of thing I like – that jumble of stuff in a bowl, with sauce, if at all possible. It’s exactly the sort of thing W spending his time hoping is not for dinner. He had a bowl of pasta with olive oil.
Warm Butternut and Chickpea Salad with Tahini
Adapted from Casa Moro
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 garlic clove, finely crushed or grated (I use my rasp)
1/2 tsp. ground allspice (I skipped this, but it might add a nice warmth)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 19 oz. (540 mL) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/4 of a medium red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
For tahini dressing:
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 Tbsp. well-stirred tahini
2 Tbsp. water
2 Tbsp. olive oil (I used nice cold-pressed canola from Highwood Crossing)
1 garlic clove, finely grated (I use my rasp)
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Spread the squash out on a large rimmed baking sheet, stir the garlic (and allspice, if you like) into the oil, drizzle it over the squash, toss it around to coat and roast for 30 minutes, or until soft and starting to turn golden. Set aside to cool.
To make the tahini dressing, whisk everything together and taste; add water to thin it if you like, or more lemon if you like it more lemony.
To assemble the salad, combine the squash, chickpeas, onion, and cilantro or parsley in a large bowl. Drizzle with dressing and toss to coat; serve immediately. Serves 2-4.