Updated: Dec 31, 2019
Vegan, Plant-based, Gluten free, Nut free
Fruit Ninja Style!
I just don’t know what it is about Butternut squash. It’s this amazing vegetable but it’s so, darn, hard to work with. Actually, who came up with the name- BUTTERnut. Butter would connote, soft and light. Two things that do not describe this squash while in its raw state.
Once cooked though, it is buttery and smooth and so good in soups or as a stand-alone.
Seriously, it’s a lot of effort to work with this vegetable. I feel like a freakin' fruit ninja every time I’m working with this guy. You know what I mean, you get out your Fredy, Friday the thirteenth, slash murder knife 🔪 (ok, maybe he used a chain saw, but I’m making a point here) and figure out where to begin. When you finally give up and decide to venture this thing you always think you know. You know how to cut it. And then you start fruit ninjaing the heck out of it. Only to realize you don’t know, you never knew. It’s always a new adventure. Some times peeling first helps, sometimes softening it in the oven works and sometimes you just need to start hacking at it with your murderer knife.
And I am sorry to say there is no substitute for your work. When you buy fresh pre-cut vegetables, they lose most, if not all of their nutrients within the first hour. Only instant freezing or cooking will preserve them. I know, it sucks!
But, you know what you guys. It’s always worth it in the end. And it’s always satisfying once you are finished mutilating the thing.
Most of the time Butternut squash ends up smushed, squished and possessed in a variety of soups, sauces, and kugels. No one gets to see your fine handy work.
Not anymore! This dish will show off all of your skills. As you are devouring this flavorful meal you will know in your heart. I did this. I. Am. A fruit ninja! 🗡🥋🍎🍐🥭
So get out your slaying knife, suit up with a bandana and let’s go get ourselves some butternut squash.
*note: for this recipe, use a fresh butternut squash you got from the store. The longer it sits out the more mealy then the flesh will be once cooked. That’s ok for soup but not so great for this dish. So what are you waiting for? Start hacking.
*This dish was modified from a recipe from Ottolenghi’s cookbook, Jerusalem. (Btw- my all time favorite cook book! not only plant based though- shh!🤫)
1 large or medium Butternut squash
1 large red or white onion
1/4 cup of olive oil
Pinch of salt 🧂
Za'atar (Mediterranean spice mix, has a similar taste to oregano)
3 1/2 tbsp Techina paste
Juice from half a lemon (about 1 1/2 tbsp)
2 tbsp of water
1 garlic clove crushed
1/4 tsp salt
Pre-heat oven to 300c/570f
Without removing the skin, begin hacking open your butternut squash. Remove the seeds. Once cut down into more manageable sizes start slicing to get thin crescent moon shapes where the seeds were and triangles shapes everywhere else. The slices should be half a thumb thick. And about a thumb length wide.
Place in one layer on a baking sheet lined with paper. Slice onion in half, remove skin and cut into 8ths. Keeping the chunks together. Add this to the butternut squash.
Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Use your hands to mix up and make sure everything is well covered in oil. Place in oven and cook for about an hour or so. Check after 30 minutes. You want to see some browning on the vegetables. If not browned yet, turn the up the heat a little. If already browned turn down the heat a bit and mix up with a large spoon. Return to oven.
Techina: add techina paste, water, lemon juice, garlic and salt into a small jar. Cover and shake ferociously. The techina should be white and have the consistency of honey. Add more water if too thick. More past if too liquidy.
After an hour the butternut squash should be cooked through and well, buttery. The skin needs to be super soft, most of the pieces should be browned at least somewhere.
Let cool. Plate on a flat serving platter if you have one. Drizzle on the techina and then sprinkle on the Zaatar. You are welcome to garnish with parsley if you have it on hand. The bright green makes the dish look pretty.
Only put techina on what you plan on eating at this meal. The techina will make the dish spoil faster.
Serve as a main at a plant-based meal or as a side at another kind of meal. This also goes well for a lunch or dinner in a bowl with a grain, topped with more techina. Obviously. In the picture above I served it with Mediterranean spiced burghul wheat with lentils and Israeli salad.
*nutrition information is a rough estimation
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