The next part of my MFM adventure was heralded by a triumphant text from my mother yesterday: “I got it!!”
‘It’ being the elusive tahini, which means… time for MFM part 2! Warm pumpkin salad with chickpeas and tahini.
First on the agenda, chopping a large butternut squash. The recipe also recommends pumpkin, but since most British shops seem to think pumpkins are purely decorative items to be sold for Halloween, I used good old butternut.
I’m always conflicted when using butternut squash. It’s one of my favourite foods: it’s delicious, it’s versatile, it’s low in calories and high in vitamins and fibre… and yet, my heart always sinks when I get my hands on one and realise that I have to peel and chop it before I can benefit from all of that. I’ve tried multiple ways to make it less arduous, though none makes it what I’d call easy. As you can see from the picture, I usually adopt this method - separating the bulbous bit from the straight bit and dealing with them separately. I read somewhere once that chopping the straight portion into discs then running the peeler round the edge of them makes it easier. That turned out to be true only if the squash is straight as a ruler though, which of course it rarely is. If anyone has a better way to do it, I’d love to hear about it…
Anyway, enough whingeing. With the squash diced into submission and put in the oven to roast with some olive oil, crushed garlic and half a teaspoon of allspice, the rest of the salad was a doddle. I added half a red onion (chopped) to the roasting tin too – the recipe said to chop it up and add it to the salad raw, but my mother doesn’t like raw onion and since she assisted in sourcing the tahini I wanted her to enjoy this meal.
The tahini sauce is made by mixing 3 tbsp tahini, 2 tbsp olive oil, 3.5 tbsp lemon juice (about 1 lemon’s worth), 2 tbsp water and a crushed garlic clove. It started off looking very curdled and weird, but after about 30 seconds mixing with a fork it magically turned into a lovely creamy mixture which tasted amazing.
All that remained was to drain and rinse a can of chickpeas, chop up a generous amount of coriander (about 3tbsp apparently, though I love coriander so just chopped a whole bunch and added it with wild abandon), and mix them with the roasted squash. Some salt and pepper to taste, and then the whole lot was drizzled with the tahini sauce.
Apologies again for a poor quality shot, but take it from me – this is one of the few dishes I’ve made that looks almost as attractive as the picture in the cookbook! The bright colours of the squash, onion and coriander contrast beautifully with the white tahini sauce.
The recipe said it served four, and when I dished up that looked pretty stingy so I divided it into three instead. Actually though, this was deceptively filling, especially as I did quick flatbreads again – already becoming a staple recipe! Although it’s called a salad, it’s quite heavy, and the flavours are warm and rich rather than refreshing. If you wanted to freshen it a bit you could try serving it over some spinach leaves or similar – I’m going to try doing that soon. After all, this went down really well, and I now have some tahini to use up…
(PS: I just ate the remaining portion of this for lunch, and it was really good cold too. The tahini sauce had gone a tiny bit sticky, but a night in the fridge seems to have brought out the flavours even more – yum!)