Friday, October 21, 2011

One more try

The person for which I cook the most, is my boyfriend. S loves his food and according to him, it is one of the greatest pleasures in life. We tend to agree on that.

Over the years, I have come to trust his opinion about my cooking, and I always ask what he thinks about different dishes I prepare or experiment with. He is truthful in his responses and since I fancy myself as having a BS detector, I believe I would know if he was lying. Or would I?

The other day, as we were sitting together on the couch browsing the internet, the conversation came to salads. How we liked the one with radicchio we ate at a restaurant last week or how we hated the one with pears our friend 'x' made the other night, and then all of a sudden, the conversation came to the salads I have made.

He started fumbling his words when I mentioned some of the more, let's say adventurous salads I have prepared at times, and sentences like "I didn't quite enjoy that one baby" and "I didn't like that one either", started coming out of his mouth.

Ok, I know S isn't the type of man who is looking forward to the salad part of a meal (is there any man who does?) but rather the main attraction, like a nice piece of rib-eye steak or my special roast chicken. Still, I make some mean salads. He oughta now that.

Truth be told, he can eat a bowlful of Horiatiki salad and I have to fight him over the last bite of an endive and apple salad every single time, but I guess I have to accept the fact that he will never enjoy raw kale or cauliflower.

Now, if you think this story has a happy ending, with an enthusiastic S loving this delicious, seasonal butternut squash salad I prepared in order to entice his appetite, you're sorely mistaken. S didn't like this one either. But I did. So who you're gonna trust, huh?

Spicy, Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Lime, Chilli and a Yoghurt and Tahini Dressing
Adapted from Plenty

The flavors in this wholesome salad are quite unique. The earthy sweetness of the butternut squash, the gentle spiciness of the cardamom, the acidity of the lime, the heat that comes from the green chilli and the cool, refreshing Greek yoghurt, are all working together to create a wonderful balance of flavors.

Enjoy it with some whole-wheat bread and a glass of Viognier.

Yield: 4-6 salad or 2 main-course servings

1 medium-sized butternut squash (about 1 kg)
2 Tbsp green cardamom pods
1 tsp allspice, ground
2 whole limes
3 + 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 green chilli, thinly sliced
A handful of flat-leaf parsley leaves (or coriander leaves), (about 15 g)
Sea salt

for the yoghurt dressing
140 g Greek strained yoghurt, full-fat
40 g tahini, stirred well
1 Tbsp lime juice, freshly squeezed
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3-3½ Tbsp water
Sea salt

Special equipment: mortar and pestle, large baking sheet

Place the cardamom pods in a mortar and pound them with the pestle in order to take the seeds out of the pods. Discard the pods and keep the seeds.

Grind them to a rough powder and place them in a small bowl. Add the ground allspice and 3 Tbsp of olive oil and mix well with a spoon.

Preheat your oven to 210 degrees Celsius.

Line your baking sheet with baking paper.
Rinse the butternut squash under running water and peel it with a vegetable peeler or a sharp knife. Cut it in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and discard them. Then cut each half crosswise into 1cm-thick slices.
Arrange the squash slices on the baking sheet in a single layer and brush them over with the aforementioned spice and olive oil mixture. Sprinkle them with a little sea salt and put the baking sheet in the middle rack of the oven. Roast squash for about 15 minutes or until tender when tested with a fork. Once ready, remove sheet from the oven and allow squash to cool.

While the butternut squash is roasting, take the two limes and, using a sharp knife, first cut off the peel, then the white pith all around the fruit, exposing the flesh, then cut into quarters, cutting from top to bottom and finally cut each quarter into thin slices, about 2mm thick. Put them in a small bowl, add 1 Tbsp of olive oil and a little sea salt and stir with a spoon.

for the yoghurt dressing
Put the yoghurt in a small bowl. Add the well stirred tahini, the olive oil, water, lime juice and a little sea salt and mix well with a spoon. What you're aiming for is a thick but runny enough dressing to pour over the salad. You may need to add more water if your dressing is too thick.

arrange and serve the salad
Arrange the cooled butternut squash slices on a large platter. Scatter the lime slices over the squash and drizzle with the yoghurt and tahini dressing. Scatter the chilli slices over the salad and finish it off with some parsley leaves. Serve immediately.

Put the rest of the dressing in a small bowl and place it on the table.


  1. I agree with you and your bboyfriend :)

    Btw, you did a marvelous job with this butternut squash.

  2. Great dish using buttersquash.Nice that you have someone that appreciate your food;)

  3. I am sure I would love this! BF are not adventurous at all with salads... I think it's a limitation of the male brain!

  4. What can I say- you made an incredible salad. How could anyone not love it ;>)

  5. Well, the way I look at it, if S. doesn't like it that means more for you! It sounds amazing and I love the spice combination!

  6. Well, I trust your taste and recipes. I was looking for something interesting to try this week and as I love squash, this sounds perfect. I've often had problems that those I love the most don't share my taste in food but it's something you to live with. Besides, I'm sure S. loves your ice cream.

  7. Maybe it was the cardamom; my mom hated cardamom in her coffee even though I and many many people in the Middle-East love it. I would have loved this salad, too.

  8. I don't understand the male lack of understanding of salads.

  9. I think it looks wonderful - so I'm inclined to agree with you, rather than your bf!

  10. I am lucky in that my partner is even a bigger fan of salads than me. Anyway you are so right about how the poeple we cook for and with inspire us.

  11. This looks beautiful and declious!

  12. So sad for S! But your recipe photos are beautiful and I know that I would love this dish and am putting it in my files under winter squash.
    I really like the lime/chili detail in the dressing to add just that perfect dimension to your recipe. Ciao for now!

  13. My family history is visa versa of yours. My mother grand parents came from Thessaloniki to Istanbul. We make the same dish a little different. We bake one row of squash, onion rings on top,all dusted with flour,drizzled with olive oil in the oven and use yogurt, garlic sauce. I like your blog a lot and try your receipies.

  14. Regarding your gorgeous butternut squash salad: Even though my Bill would be like your S, I would love it--a perfect harmony of elements.

  15. Lovely recipe... harmonic combination of flavors! Brava Magda!

  16. This sounds like exactly the same conversation we had in our house a couple of weeks ago. I trust your taste completely- and I think this one looks divine.

  17. This salad looks delicious, lets face it men just don't like salad, so getting S to eat any salad is a great achievement!. GG

  18. Gorgeous salad, butternut squash is one of my favorites.

  19. I just love pumpkins and squash but the husband just doesn't like it. This looks so perfect for a light lunch.

  20. YOU naturally! I have a kabocha squash I was wondering what to do with and I *love* tahini (and just bought some!) so trying, asap.

  21. What a fantastic recipe and complex combination! That must be one serious burst of flavors. I love this combination .. must try it! Your BF is a lucky guy!

  22. Gonna make this right now, can't wait!

  23. Sasa — I hope you enjoy it! :)

  24. Thank you for sharing this. I have included this the Kosher Cooking Carnival I hosted this month.