Jerusalem – For many reasons, this is the cookbook I keep coming back to
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Always sitting on the edge of my desk
Don’t get me wrong. In the past, there have been a handful of others I’ve also kept close, mainly because I was beginning my cooking journey and knew they offered tried and true recipes, sloppy joes, summer potato salad, winter stews, baked beans, chocolate cake
But as I’ve gotten older, they’re nostalgia more than anything else, reminding me of another time and place. When church ladies cooked in basements painted all shades of pastel, while kids played tag outside. I can’t remember where the men were
(Hopefully at home smoking cigars .. )
I’d love to have most any of the meals they offer, but as I’ve wound my way along my cooking journey, they just aren’t an active part of my day-to-day anymore.
It introduced me to a world of middle eastern spices, complex flavor combinations that have become more comforting to my tastes than mayo
Our local ethnic grocery used to be mysterious, not anymore. I move through with the confidence of a regular, instead of the hesitancy of an outsider who’s exploring.
Pretty fun stuff
So this weekend, when the inevitable question came up, what are we making for dinner? We both couldn’t help but include this one
I’m so glad we did; it was incredible. After deeply roasting the onions and butternut squash wedges, the creamy tahini sauce kissed with garlic and lemon was the perfect accent. Za’atar added a pop of sharpness, with pine nuts offering their crunchy contrast.
Add your favorite protein and dinner is served
ps: If you’re having trouble tracking down za’atar, or just want to try your hand at making your own, you can find a great recipe for za’atar here
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~ Adapted from the Jerusalem
Roasted Butternut Squash and Red Onion with Tahini and Za’atar
- 1 large butternut squash, cut into small, uniform pieces
- 2 red onions, cut into small to medium size wedges
- 3 ½ Tbsp olive oil
- 3 ½ Tbsp light tahini paste
- 1 ½ Tbsp lemon juice (freshly squeezed is best)
- 2 Tbsp water
- 1 - 2 heads roasted garlic
- 3 ½ Tbsp pine nuts
- 1 Tbsp za’atar
- 1 Tbsp coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400° F.
- Put the squash and onion in a large mixing bowl, add 3 tablespoons of the oil, some roasted garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, some black pepper and toss well.
- Spread on a baking sheet with the skin facing down and roast in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until the vegetables have taken on some color and are cooked through. (Keep an eye on the onions as they might cook faster than the squash and need to come out a bit earlier)
- Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
- To make the sauce, combine the tahini in a small bowl along with the lemon juice, water, garlic, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Whisk until the sauce is the consistency of honey, adding more water or tahini if necessary.
- Pour the remaining 1 ½ teaspoons oil into a small frying pan and place over medium-low heat.
- Add the pine nuts along with the ½ teaspoon salt and cook for 2 minutes, stirring often, until the nuts are golden brown.
- Remove from the heat and transfer the nuts and oil to a small bowl to stop the cooking.
- To serve, spread the vegetables out and drizzle the tahini sauce over. Sprinkle the pine nuts and their oil on top, followed by the za’atar and parsley