Chile, Cardamom, and Lime Solve the Squash Blues

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Squash is both a beloved and hated vegetable. Come late summer into fall, it won’t stop creeping into stir fries and pastas, stews and salads—sometimes adding a velvety nuttiness, but often becoming an encumbrance to a dish. It can be tasteless. It gets pasty, lumpy, or too heavy. In some mashed iterations, it’s really no different than baby food.

But for any vegetable that finds itself faltering in more typical recipes, thanks again Yotam Ottolenghi, who never fails to dress vegetables in startling new clothes. I blogged about a radish avocado salad from his cookbook Plenty last spring, and it’s also where I plucked this unconventional and satisfying roasted butternut squash recipe.

You’ll coat the squash in a mixture of cardamom, allspice, and olive oil before baking. I was liberal with my cardamom, and lazy about grinding it too finely, but this ended up adding a welcomed crunch. Also, I baked half of my squash in one big piece and hot olive oil mixed with cardamom had pooled into its center by the time it was done. A hunk of crusty baguette dunked into this makeshift dip tasted pretty heavenly.

The salad should be served at room temperature, with plenty of fresh lime juice. Don’t be scared of the jalapeño slices: they do wonders in perking up the oft-bland butternut, and their bite is balanced by the yogurt/tahini sauce.

Roasted Butternut Squash with Sweet Spices, Lime, and Green Chile
From Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty

  • 2 limes
  • sea salt
  • 4 T olive oil
  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • 2 T cardamom pods (or 1 T seeds)
  • 1 t ground allspice
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 1/2 T tahini
  • 1 T lime juice
  • 1 Green chile, thinly sliced (I used jalapeño)
  • 2/3 cup cilantro leaves

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Trim off limes’ tops and bases and then cut down side of fruit, peeling off the skin and white pith. Quarter the limes and then cut into thin slices. Place in a bowl and drizzle with 1 T olive oil and some salt. Set aside.

Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Cut each half into 3/8 inch-thick slices and lay out on a baking dish lined with parchment paper.

Grind cardamom with a mortar and pestle and mix with allspice in a small bowl. Add 3 T olive oil, stir, and brush this mixture over the squash slices. Sprinkle on a little salt and place in the oven for 15 minutes or until tender when poked with a fork (I think it took more like 25).

Stir together yogurt, tahini, lime juice, 2 T water, and some salt.

To serve, arrange the cooled butternut slices on a platter and drizzle with yogurt sauce. Spoon over the lime slices and their juices and toss chile slices and cilantro on top.

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