Roasted Squash Salad with Tahini and Za’atar

Some days more than others, cooking is a dance.

“I’ll be there in a minute, honey!”  I crank the oven, scrub a butternut squash, lean in toward the counter, hack the peel away.  (Some people eat it, do you?)  Losing patience, my big girl comes over to talk subtraction, negative numbers, first grade math, the number line.  The squash falls away from my knife in isosceles wedges.  I show one to the girls.

“Do you want your squash in big pieces like this or little squares like squash candy?”  You can guess the answer.  I dice the last third of the squash, sling the pan into the oven, sweep the peels and seeds into the freezer for making broth, correct math homework, give in to the baby’s demand for a cracker.

Back to the recipe.  I scoop tahini and squeeze lemon, press garlic, whisk, text with an old friend about soup, recite the memorized words from a favorite children’s book that we can’t find today.  And then, in a moment of calm, I give my full attention to the stove, stirring, for the three minutes it takes to toast pine nuts.  Success.  They don’t burn.

Sweet roasted squash and red onions, a generous drizzle of tahini dressing, those salty toasted pine nuts, a shower of za’atar.  I taste a piece of squash, then stop doing everything else.  J wanders in at that moment and I hand him the plate and two forks.  We sit down in the middle of the chaos and eat every bite.   Roasted Sqush and Onions with Tahini and Za'atarThe recipe below is scaled to reflect the fact that I only used 2/3 of a medium-sized butternut squash. To serve more than two people, I highly recommend using a large squash and doubling the quantities of everything else, which will get you fairly close to the proportions of the original recipe.

Roasted Squash Salad with Tahini and Za’atar (adapted from Jerusalem, the newest cookbook from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi): Peel and seed a small butternut squash and slice it into wedges about 2″ long and 3/4″ wide at the base.  Peel a red onion and slice it into wedges about 1″ wide at the base (leave the core intact at the root end to help the wedges hang together).  Toss squash and onion with plenty of olive oil and salt, spread on a rimmed baking sheet, and roast at 475 until browned and tender, 30-40 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together 2 Tbsp. tahini, 2 tsp. lemon juice, half a small crushed clove of garlic, a good pinch of salt, and 1-2 Tbsp. water (enough to form a drizzle-able sauce).  Set aside.

Finally, toast 3 Tbsp. pine nuts in a teaspoon of olive oil with a good pinch of salt over medium-low heat.  Pay attention to them the whole time (2-4 minutes).  Stir them often.  Move them to a bowl when they are golden brown, along with the oil, to stop the cooking.

To serve, spread the roasted vegetables on a plate.  Drizzle with the tahini sauce, then scatter the pine nuts and oil on top.  Finish with 1 1/2 tsp. za’atar.


24 thoughts on “Roasted Squash Salad with Tahini and Za’atar

  1. Dena Rosenberg

    A) that looks delicious. B) aha: peels and seeds for soup! C) I cannot multitask like that, but I aspire to it. D) I think every comment I leave is in list form. E) Hi to you (and what’s-his-face).

    1. emmycooks Post author

      1) I love your lists 2) It’s good that you’ve been gearing up all this time for the intense outlining you’re probably doing now; hopefully that’s going ok 3) If you live in NYC you don’t have to save seeds for stock because your freezer is full of shoes, right? But you should make this (or have what’s-his-face make it for you), we’ve been making it over and over. Love you! xo

    1. emmycooks Post author

      I do too! And this recipe was a great reminder to keep a bowl of lemon tahini sauce in my fridge all the time to slather on everything. Which I’ve been doing ever since. :)

  2. EverydayMaven

    Gorgeous dish. I want that book! I often reflect on the fact that you and I have very, very similar taste on food. Now, the fact that you do all this with 3 children and not 1 like me, mind-boggling!

    1. emmycooks Post author

      I love your blog for the same reason–I want to make everything you recommend! In fact, this morning I considered making your kale salad for breakfast–but there was oatmeal waiting on the stove for me so it will be lunch instead. :) I totally recommend Jerusalem, it’s inspiring. I want to make everything.

      1. oatsgirl

        My old roommie used to make fattouch, and I also love it with some pasta and goat cheese yuuuum
        Really it is perfect with any roasted vegetable like you’ve done!

    1. emmycooks Post author

      I’m so glad you noticed my math vocabulary. ;-) I’m working on modeling being a math whiz now that I’m raising so many girls! And however you slice it, you should try this recipe, it’s a nonstop favorite around here these days.

  3. Hannah

    This sounds so very familiar :) Well minus the math homework, we’re not in real school yet. I got this cookbook just this month and now this recipe has moved to the top of my must-try list … Sounds like one darn good moment of eating :)

  4. hännah

    Wow, this looks great. I’ve been meaning to check out that cookbook…I think one of my life mottos has to be that there are too many cookbooks and too little time. :)

  5. musingmar

    I’m very fond of roasted squash, and the dressing you used on this sounds delicious. A must try! Your tale of cooking while tending to the children took me back in time to when my children were small and I was doing the same thing.

  6. baconbiscuit212

    Looks terrific! Roasted squash? Tahini? Za’atar? What’s not to love? I was just thinking too that a sprinkle of pomegranate seeds might not be too bad either.

    I always peel butternut squash. I just don’t think the peel is appetizing at all (unlike the much thinner-skinned Delicata squash).

  7. Pingback: Roasted Squash Salad to Ring in the New Year « jittery cook

  8. Somer

    This looks so insanely good Emmy. I can imagine a good silence at the dinner table while it’s being gobbled up. I’m going to have to google za’atar. I have no idea what it is…

  9. StefanGourmet

    Sounds good!
    I was running behind on reading posts on my favorite blogs as you can see ;-)
    I always toast pine nuts in the oven. No stirring needed and no risk of burning — well at least no partial burning…


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