Today is a very special day for me, it's my houseiversary. Yes, one year ago JJ, Pumpkin, Charlotte, Belle and I moved into our first house. I can't believe it was one year ago that all hell broke loose, resulting in us moving in a week early due to our apartment flooding. That apartment was a nightmare, and a huge contributor to why I wasn't really impressed with life in Florida. It was the worst possible place for a food blogger to live because there was zero natural light. I was unemployed when we moved here, so I spent much of my time in the kitchen, cooking up some really great dishes. Unfortunately they either went undocumented due to poor photographs, or the photographs don't do them justice. One of them was this dish, quite possibly one of my absolute favorites.
So I'm not going to dwell on the horrible apartment, and instead celebrate a year in my first house. One of the main things I wanted to do when I had a house was plant a vegetable garden. I've had some great successes and failure, with this being a huge success. Over the weekend, I finally picked my first butternut squash! I had been babysitting this squash for weeks, waiting for it to be ready for harvest. He's was not very big, but I couldn't wait any longer. I was afraid of bugs, dogs, and any other catastrophe that could take him away from me.
After I picked him, I sat him on the counter and thought about what I could possibly make with the squash that would honor him. I realize this makes me sound crazy and/or weird, but I'm ok with that. I have so much emotional stock in my garden, I've spent so much time, energy (and money), so the crop yield is magical for me.
Finally, it hit me like a ton of bricks. It was Saturday around noon, I was hungry for lunch, and had the always fun task of cleaning the house ahead of me. I needed a great lunch to power me through. I always have chickpeas on hand, and just bought a new jar of tahini (because the eggplant crop has been quite plentiful, and making baba ganoush is a great way to use them up!), so this salad was inevitable.
I preheated the oven, crossed my fingers, and sliced this guy right down the center. I had visions of rot and bugs and mushy, brown insides. But no, he was perfect!
When I cook butternut squash, I always chop off the bottom cup, seed it and roast it along with the chopped up neck, never knowing what I'll do with it. Sometimes I sprinkle in some cinnamon and a pat of butter and eat it for a snack, sometimes it's saved for a soup and gets pureed, and sometimes I stand over the stove and eat it when no one is looking. I have minimal self-control around squash.
So into the oven it went. And let me tell you, when you have cubed butternut squash on a cutting board and some people think it's cheddar cheese, it's quite funny to watch them grab a cube and pop it in their mouth...
Yes, more eggplant... always more eggplant!
After I made up the salad, I had a light bulb go off, and I spooned the salad into the squash butt cups. The dressing soaked into them, and they were absolutely delicious to scrape out at the end of the meal. I found a new way to eat my squash butts!
This recipe had made its way around the bloggosphere for a few years, and there's a reason why. It's so delicious. Do yourself a favor, pick up a butternut squash and make this now!
Tips and Trades:
-I like my garlic and shallots raw in the dressing, and heated up from the squash, but you can roast them right along with the squash if you prefer.
-Try making this salad with any squash variety, not just butternut.
Warn Butternut and Chickpea Salad with Tahini
2-3 lb. butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/4" dice
Kosher Salt and fresh Black Pepper
15 oz. can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp. tahini
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 shallot, minced
Salt and pepper
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 c. minced cilantro
Chopped cilantro and sesame seeds
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with parchment or foil.
Add diced butternut squash, drizzle with EVOO, salt and pepper, toss.
Bake for 20 minutes, until tender.
In a large serving bowl, whisk together lemon juice, tahini, olive oil, garlic, shallot, salt and pepper.
Taste and adjust ingredients.
Add chick peas and cilantro, mix.
Gently fold in squash, then spoon into squash cups.
Sprinkle with extra cilantro and sesame seeds.