February and March can be miserable months for many reasons. Although I have come to enjoy some butternut squash recipes, I am still not a “fan.” And by February, I’m not really interested in eating squash anymore.
Yesterday was probably the last day to go out on skis, given a beautiful, deep snow we received on Tuesday. But I was really sort of done with that as well. Today it is warm and drizzly, and might make quick work of that snow.
As for the last butternut squash, I tried a Middle Eastern recipe that gave it a new twist. There were a lot of ingredients with this recipe, although at its heart it’s just squash and onions. As with all ethnic foods, it’s about getting used to the ingredients in the little prep bowls even more than the cooking technique. With Middle Eastern dishes, I have to get used to cooking with raisins, though I do love the presence of almonds or pine nuts, the lemon juice and chick peas. And any chance to use tahini is a bonus! This recipe was in our last e-newsletter for the Episcopal House of Prayer, where I work. It’s from the director, Ward Bauman, who learned much of his cooking while living in Iran.
As you can see from the photo, I’m impatient and my onions aren’t so pretty and my presentation not as elegant as the recipe suggests. (My tahini sauce was not so much drizzled as spooned on– I like it thick!)
I made this on Tuesday when we were snowed in, and also cooked the free turkey I got in November from my car dealership. It marks the end of “freezer” season– the last thing in the standing freezer is invariably a turkey and a few loaves of zucchini bread. I moved the loaves upstairs and shut off the freezer until the harvest season.
Cassolita: Moroccan Sephardic Winter Squash
2.5 lbs winter squash: butternut, calabaza, kabocha, halved and seeded
3 Tbs oil
1/2 cup pine nuts or slivered almonds
2 lbs onions, thinly sliced
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup chopped parsley
2 tsp honey
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup tahini paste
1.5 Tbs lemon juice
2 Tbs water
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbs za’atar (Middle Eastern herb mixture, made up primarily of dried thyme and oregano, which could be used as substitute.)
Bake the squash, cut side down, on a greased baking sheet at 350 degrees until tender, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Saute the nuts in a little oil until golden. Set aside.
Saute the onions in the remaining oil until translucent. Add salt and pepper to taste, 2 Tbs of the parsley, the honey, cinnamon and raisins and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are carmelzied, about 30 minutes.
Make the tahini sauce by combining the tahini, lemon juice, water, garlic and 1/4 tsp salt and whisking until smooth. Should be consistency of honey. Add more water or tahini as necessary.
Scoop out the squash in large spoonfuls and place on a large serving platter, alternating with the carmelized onion mixture. Drizzle with the tahini sauce. Sprinkle with the nuts and finish with za’atar and remaining parsley.