Sunday, December 7, 2014

Butternut Squash and Tahini-Yogurt Dip

It's been far too long since I've shared a recipe, but that isn't because I've stopped cooking. I picked up an ample winter CSA box last month (and again this week) and those vegetables have kept me plenty busy, just in more quick-and-easy preparations, which may or may not be worthy or recipe status. A good portion of them went into the Thanksgiving dinner I hosted, and although I keep it pretty classic for holidays, this non-traditional appetizer was one of my favorite things I ate all weekend. The sweet and caramelized butternut squash is perfectly complemented by rich, nutty tahini and tangy yogurt, with the heat of the cayenne or hot sauce providing the perfect final zip. The sweetness of the butternut squash best complements the diverse palate of flavors, but even acorn squash or pumpkin could do in a pinch. This hearty starter deserves a robust dipping implement, like roasted root vegetables, pita chips, or crusty bread, but also made a great spread on a Thanksgiving leftover sandwich. I'm not too far from putting together my menu for Christmas dinner, and this recipe was delicious enough it just may make another appearance.

Butternut Squash and Tahini-Yogurt Dip
adapted from Food and Wine
serves about 8 to 12 as an appetizer

1 head of garlic
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
One 1 1/2-pound butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup plain lowfat or nonfat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup tahini paste
3 tablespoons fresh lime or lemon juice
Pinch of cayenne pepper or dash of hot sauce, to taste (optional)
Toasted pumpkin seeds, for serving (optional)
Roasted vegetables, for serving (optional)
Hearty crackers or bread, for serving (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 425°. Cut 1 inch off the top of the garlic head and place the head on a piece of foil; drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and wrap it tightly. On a large baking sheet, toss the squash with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Set the garlic on the oven rack. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, turning occasionally, until squash tender and golden brown and garlic cloves slip easily from their skins. Let cool.

2. Scrape the roasted squash into a food processor. Squeeze the garlic cloves from their skins into the processor. Add the yogurt, tahini, lemon juice and cayenne pepper. Puree until smooth, adding a little water if the dip is too thick. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the dip to a serving bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Top with the toasted pumpkin seeds, if desired, and serve with roasted vegetables and hearty crackers or bread.

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