This! in my humble opinion is a bowl of deliciousness. If you have not yet heard of Yotam Ottolenghi, and you like food, let me introduce you. With his middle eastern flare and talent for making a bowl of vegetables an absolute luxury, I recommend you delve into his world (and books if you fancy).
The combination of sweet, slightly caramelised butternut with the creamy tahini and sour kick from the za’atar compliment each other very well. If you are not so familiar with middle eastern food, tahini is a paste made of sesame seeds, and something used for so much more than just hummus. I totally recommend finding yourself a jar (this tahini sauce goes brilliantly with a whole range of roasted vegetables by the way). Za’atar is basically a mix of sumac (which is a spice made out of a red berry with a lemon like flavour used extensively in middle eastern cuisine), sesame seeds and dried thyme. Although easily available, I often mix my own.
I have labelled this dish as a side, but I would happily just eat a bowl of this for lunch or dinner, or on fancier occasions as part of a vegetable-laden spread.
My main notes on making this would be to keep an eye on whether the onion needs to come out the oven before the pumpkin, you still want the onion soft, but the pumpkin should be nice and golden brown around the edges. If you are a beginner with tahini, don’t be alarmed when it becomes really thick when you add the lemon juice and water, but just add water only a teaspoon at a time (mixing in completely each time) so you don’t accidentally end up with tahini water.
This can be eaten warm or at room temperature.
If you have not eaten a huge amount of middle eastern food, I hope this will convince you how amazing it is! Enjoy!
Roasted Butternut and Red Onion with Tahini and Za’atar
- 1 Butternut pumpkin
- 2 Red onions
- 3-4 tbsp Olive oil (divided)
- 3 1/2 tbsp Tahini
- 1 clove Garlic
- 1 1/2 tbsp Lemon juice
- 30 g Pine nuts
- 1 tbsp Za'atar
- 1 tbsp Fresh parsley
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 200°C. Top and tail the butternut and then cut it in half length ways. Remove the seeds with a spoon and then cut in half width-ways, and then cut each quarter into 2cm thickish wedges (you don't need to peel it).
- Top and tail the onion, cut in half, peel and then cut each half into 3 wedges.
- Place the veggies on a roasting tray and then drizzle with about 3 tablespoons of olive oil, then grind over some salt and pepper and coat everything well. Place in the oven and roast for about 30-40 minutes, be aware that you may have to take the onion out a little earlier so it doesn't get too crispy, and it might be good to turn the pumpkin over once while it roasts. You want the pumpkin to be melting soft and nice and browned around the edges.
- While the veggies are roasting mix the tahini, crushed garlic and lemon juice in a bowl and give it a good stir. Add two tablespoons of water and stir until combined (tahini will first thicken when you add water). You want your tahini sauce to be thick, but drizzle-able, so add a little water (a teaspoon at a time if necessary).
- Heat another tablespoon of olive oil in a small pan and throw in the pine nuts with a sprinkle of salt. Stir them regularly, and keep a sharp eye on them, as soon as they have started browning, take them off the heat (they can go from brown to black quite fast, so don't forget about them, not that I am talking from experience).
- Roughly chop up the parsley.
- Once the pumpkin and onions are cooked arrange them on a serving plate. Drizzle the tahini sauce over the top, then sprinkle over the pine nuts, parsley and za'atar.