Roasted Butternut Squash with Red Onions, Tahini and Za’atar

Serves 6

Adapted from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi (Ten Speed Press 2012)

Topped with classic tahini sauce and savory-tart za’atar (a Middle Eastern spice mix), caramelized oven-roasted squash and red onions is addictively good. It’s excellent for Thanksgiving: colorful, lots of flavor, and easy to make. Because it’s served at room temperature, Roasted Butternut Squash with Red Onion, Tahini and Za’atar may be made in the morning, freeing up the Thanksgiving stove for last minute gravy and potatoes. The dish is vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free. Pair it with a green salad, crusty bread, and olives for a terrific mid-week meal.

Roasted Vegetables:

2 1/2 to 3 pound butternut squash (2 pounds cleaned), peeled and cut into 1" pieces

2-3 red onions, cut into 1" wedges

6 Tbsp. olive oil, divided

1 1/2 tsp. salt, divided

Freshly ground black pepper

Tahini Sauce:

1/4 cup tahini

2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

3 Tbsp. water

1-2 cloves garlic, finely grated

1/4 tsp. salt

Assembly:

1 Tbsp. za’atar

1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted (see NOTE below)

2 Tbsp. chopped Italian parsley

1/4 cup pomegranate seeds

Freshly ground black pepper

Roast Vegetables: Preheat oven to 475°F. Cover two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Put squash in bowl and toss with 3 Tbsp. olive oil, 3/4 tsp. salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Spread squash out evenly on one baking sheet. Put red onions in bowl and toss with 3 Tbsp. olive oil, 3/4 tsp. salt, and freshly ground black pepper.  Spread onions out evenly on second baking sheet. Roast vegetables for 35 to 45 minutes or until browned and tender (a little char around the edges adds good flavor). Stir each pan of vegetables about halfway through its cooking time, rotate baking sheets front to back and top to bottom, and continue roasting. Remove vegetables from oven and leave to cool on baking sheets.

Make Sauce: Place tahini in small bowl. Whisk with lemon juice, water, garlic, and salt until sauce is the consistency of honey (add extra water or tahini if sauce is too thick or too thin). Taste and add salt or lemon juice, as needed.

Assemble: Mix cooled vegetables together and spread out on large serving platter. Sprinkle with za’atar, then pine nuts. Drizzle with tahini sauce. Sprinkle with parsley, pomegranate seeds, and freshly ground black pepper. Taste and add salt, freshly ground black pepper, or za'atar as needed.

NOTE: To toast pine nuts, place in heavy frying pan (cast iron works well) and cook, stirring regularly, for 2-4 minutes, or until pine nuts are nicely browned. Pine nuts burn very easily; don't walk away from the pan while you're cooking pine nuts. When pine nuts are done, remove them to a plate. If left in the pan, even off the heat, pine nuts continue to cook and may burn.