Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Butternut Squash and Chickpea Salad

Ok, cancel the last Smitten Kitchen chick pea salad, this one is even better and when I say better, I mean amazing. I tried this salad with left over butternut squash from the muffins and although I'm sorry that it's another hugely unattractive set of pictures, you will have to take my word for it that this is completely delicious.  

It's basically an unhummoused hummous - chickpeas, garlic, tahini, lemon juice and oil - gussied up with spring onion and roast cubes of butternut squash. The result is far more exciting than that makes it sound, and this is about the most moreish thing I've made in a long time. I ate a huge amount of it at lunch and although it's really filling, I still kept going back for more, far beyond my normal levels of greed. 

The squash is roasted very simply in oil, salt and pepper and a bit of crushed garlic, and it's the garlic which makes all the difference. It sounds so basic but I'd never have thought that the garlic and sweet, candied squash would complement each other. Not only do they complement, they write long, passionate love speeches to each other and swear to be together forever. I'm not joking, I don't think I'll ever roast squash without garlic again.

I made a few changes to the Smitten Kitchen recipe - most notably reducing the amount of raw garlic (having learnt my lesson from last time) and, for similar reasons, swapping the red onion she suggests for spring onion. I'm sure the red onion is delicious but I hate tasting oniony all afternoon, so spring onion seemed like a safer bet. The greeny flecks in the beige / orange mush are either a pleasing dash of colour or a heinous aesthetic crime, depending on your point of view. Finally, I toasted the seeds at the same time and stirred them in, and they added a nice crunch. I also found that the roasted squash tended to smush apart as I stirred the dressing in, rather than staying in attractive, disparate cubes like those on the Smitten Kitchen site.

Aesthetics apart, this is my new favourite lunch and I am indeed smitten with it. When the weather was so glorious last week, I ate this out in the park with a bit of green salad on the side and it was the perfect picnic food - especially because I didn't have to share it with anyone. At a more social picnic? Make lots, enjoy the sunshine, and hope that the fact that this looks a bit unattractive means that no one will want to try it. All the more for you!

Butternut Squash and Chickpea Salad
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Serves 2 for a massive lunch, or 4 or more as a side

- 1 butternut squash, chopped into smallish chunks
- 2 crushed cloves of garlic
- oil, salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons of tahini
- 1 tablespoonful of olive oil
- juice of half a lemon
- 1 tablespoonful of water
- tin of chick peas, drained
- 2 spring onions, chopped
- handful of chopped parsley

First off, preheat your oven to 180. Toss your chunks of squash in oil, salt, pepper and 3/4 of the garlic, then roast for half an hour or until soft and slightly caramelised. I toasted the seeds of the squash at the same time. Set aside to cool while you make the dressing.

In a big bowl, mix together the tahini, oil, lemon juice and water with the rest of the garlic. Taste to check that the flavours are good - you want to be able to taste the sharpness of the lemon - then add the chick peas, squash, seeds, spring onions and parsley and stir together.

This was fantastic warm but I had to wrangle it into a lunchbox for the next day and let me tell you, it was still bloody brilliant. I think next time I'd boost the quantities of dressing if I were planning to have it the next day, as the flavours had muted slightly, but still so good.

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