It’s funny. I am always advocating the novelty that comes from reading an actual physical book. Forget the Internet’s endless library. Forget e-lit. Forget iPads. Forget Kindles. I want to read a real book. I want to turn pages, and breathe paper, and step away from the computer. Yet these days I rarely look at cookbooks. I scan a handful of food blogs almost daily, instead, and shun the research for one of my greatest passions – food/cooking – away from my off-screen, unplugged glory time. Ridiculous. I do subscribe to Vegetarian Times mag, but that’s about it for my recipe-to-paper reading unless I’m stumbling through a bookstore or sitting on the couch at my mom’s house. My mom has loads of old school cookbooks, and it always feels like an adventure to scan through the hand-written pages of Moosewood’s first publishing. It also feels like an adventure when I randomly come across a cookbook elsewhere, and take the time to read it. I.E., how this recipe made it into my kitchen.
Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s Jerusalem was not new to my ears. Throughout last year, this cookbook received a ton of hype, as did Ottolenghi’s previous book, Plenty. That says something. With so many gorgeous food blogs sprung into creation, I’m not the only going against my own advice and shifting away from cookbook reading. These days, if you want your cookbook to go viral, you better guarantee it offers something NEW to the table. My friend had Jerusalem laying around her house, thus giving me the opportunity to finally scan its pages. Glorious. It’s definitely one in which I’d like to cook through all of its vegetarian inclusions. And has me wondering about Plenty, which Ottolenghi comprised entirely of meat-free recipes. Thank god a few of my friends enjoy, and actually buy, cookbooks. When I have more space, hopefully I’ll invest in more of them too. Don’t, but also please do, hold me to that. Scanning through a stack of them aside Jerusalem in quest to create a Saturday feast, this recipe here made the night’s multi-course menu. Of all of the recipes we chose — Carrot, ginger, mulled apple juice; Arugula, kale, persimmon, tahini salad; Beet and lentil borscht; Pear & Almond muffins; — this one was one of the simplest. It was also my favorite.
The creaminess of the tahini with the velvety roasted butternut squash and caramelized red onions literally blew me away. So much so that I made this again, 2 weeks later, for my family at Christmas. So good. Definitely a must-try for yourself.
- 1 large butternut squash, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
- 2 large red onions, cut in half, and then cut each half into about 5 wedges
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- Coarse salt and black pepper
- 3½ Tbsp tahini paste
- 1½ Tbsp lemon juice
- 3 Tbsp water
- 1 small garlic clove, crushed
- 1/4 cup pine nuts (I used pan-toasted sesame seeds instead)
- 1 Tbsp za'atar
- 1 Tbsp roughly chopped parsley
- Heat the oven to to 220C/425F. Put the squash and onions in a large bowl, add 3 Tbsp. of oil, a tsp. of salt and some black pepper, and toss well. Spread, skin down, on a baking sheet and roast for 40 minutes until the vegetables have taken on some color and are cooked through. Keep an eye on the onions: they may cook faster than the squash, so may need to be removed earlier. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
- Put the tahini in a small bowl with the lemon juice, water, garlic and a 1/4 tsp. of salt. Start with 1 Tbsp. of water, and whisk to the consistency of honey, adding more water or tahini as necessary.
- Pour the remaining oil into a small frying pan on a medium-low heat. Add the pine nuts and half a teaspoon of salt, cook for two minutes, stirring, until the nuts are golden brown, then tip the nuts and oil into a small bowl. (If using sesame seeds, place a skillet over medium-high heat. Add sesame seeds, and toast until brown, stirring constantly. No oil needed.)
- To serve, spread the vegetables on a platter and drizzle over the sauce. Scatter the pine nuts/sesame seeds on top, followed by the za'atar and parsley.