Monday, November 2, 2009
Just Squash It
Lately people have been asking me about what to make for Thanksgiving. Since it's still a few weeks away, I was thinking that I would devote next week to talking about ideas for different sides and desserts. But let's face it. The Occasional Cook can't promise consistent blogging or daily cooking, so I'm just going to have to throw out ideas as they come to me (and when I'm not as some random restaurant or wine bar).
I recently came across a recipe for a squash puree that struck me as both uniquely autumnal and somewhat healthy (the latter being a questionable adjective when it comes to Thanksgiving and the inevitable carbo load). I think it would make a great snack to nibble on while everyone is arriving and your host is still dealing with last minute preparations. You could easily sip some bubbles, a Chardonnay, or a Pinot Noir and be perfectly happy with this appetizer.
Butternut Squash Dip
(Adapted from Recipes for Health)
2 - 2 1/2 pounds butternut squash
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup sesame tahini, stirred if the oil has separated out
2 large garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Pomegranate seeds and extra virgin olive oil for garnish
1. Preheat the oven to 425˚F. Lightly brush a baking sheet with olive oil. Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds and stringy membranes, sprinkle with salt and pepper and lay cut-side down. Bake for 45 minutes to one hour, or until very soft. A knife should cut through it without resistance, and the skin should be wrinkled. Remove from the oven and allow to cool, then peel and transfer to a food processor fitted with the steel blade (alternatively mash with a potato masher in a large bowl). Add the tahini, and puree until smooth and creamy.
2. Combine the garlic and 1/2 teaspoon salt on a cutting board and mash to a paste with the side of a chef's knife. Add to the food processor (or bowl) along with the lemon juice and cumin, and blend together (or stir together). Add additional salt to taste.
3. Serve the puree in a wide bowl or on a plate. Drizzle a little olive oil over the top, and garnish with pomegranate seeds. Serve with warm pita bread or pita chips. Makes about 3 1/2 cups.