Composed: Warm Butternut Squash & Chickpea Salad with Tahini Dressing

By Jeannette Ordas of Everybody likes Sandwiches

A composed salad is usually a pretty good looking specimen, drizzled with some fantastically amazing - but still aesthetically pleasing - dressing. I'm not sure this is that salad. But, it's a tasty one and if you take a shortcut here or there, it can be a quick one too.

What kind of shortcuts am I talking about? Well, I did the unthinkable and used frozen butternut squash for this salad. I know, I'm not proud of myself. But, I was in a jam. I needed to bring a salad over for a potluck and since I've made this salad many times over, I knew that this was a good candidate. At least flavour-wise. Looks wise? Well, I love it regardless. It's my version of an ugly baby. If you want it prettier, go to your market and get a butternut squash and carve it up yourself. Or use yams or sweet potatoes, which work equally well here and are a bit easier to prep.

Chickpeas make up the other main component, adding bulk and protein. Feel free to use the canned variety. Lately, I've been using dried chickpeas and always have some in the freezer or thawing in my fridge. And because I love the chickpea, I usually add more than what the recipe states, there's no such thing as too much of a good thing.

But it's the dressing that makes this salad. It's brings the sizzle to get this party started. The lemon, olive oil, garlic and tahini make an unbeatable combo with the squash and chickpeas. It's tangy, earthy and voluptuously creamy that you'll want to add even more to your salad. And that's the thing, just go right ahead. The dressing makes more than you need to wet the salad. Keep the jar at the table and drizzle it over your bowl. Yeah, maybe just a little bit more. It's addicting stuff.

Warm Butternut Squash & Chickpea Salad with Tahini Dressing
(adapted from Orangette)

1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded & cut into 1" chunks (or do what I did and use 1 10oz frozen pkg of butternut squash and half a pkg of frozen sweet potatoes)
1 large garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
2 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt
1 teaspoon red chill flakes

1 large garlic clove, minced
juice from 1 lemon
3 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon honey (optional)
kosher salt

1 1/2 cups chickpeas or 1 15oz can drained & rinsed
1/4 of a medium onion, sliced thin
2 green onions, sliced thin (or use cilantro)

toasted pecans, chopped, for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 425F.

In a large bowl, combine the squash, garlic, spices and olive oil together and use your hands to evenly coat everything. Turn onto a baking sheet covered with silpat or parchment and roast for 20-30 minutes, tossing once, until soft and slightly golden. Remove from the oven and set aside. 

In a small bowl, whisk together the tahini sauce. Tahini might seem stiff, but keep whisking until you get something nice and creamy, adding more water if needed. If my tahini is a bit bitter, I'll add in a little honey to tame things down. 

Assemble the salad by adding the chickpeas and onion into a large serving bowl. Gently add in the squash, along with a few tablespoons of the sauce and toss carefully. Keep the remainder of the tahini sauce at the table for drizzling. Garnish with toasted pecans, if you wish.

It's lovely eaten warm, but just as nice eaten straight from the fridge. Alternately, you can zap any leftovers in the microwave if you feel the need to reheat.

Jan Halvarson


when skies are grey said...

Wow, this looks delicious, I will be trying it soon :) Thanks!

Unknown said...

This looks so yummy! do you have any extra? :) Michelle