I’ve recently had two of my housemates from university come to visit. Food is one of the things that cements our friendship, having run a student food blog together (www.chocolatebudget.wordpress.com, if you’re interested). We had something of a dip extravaganza, making several different ones including baba ganoush, guacamole and this butternut squash one. All accompanied by pitta bread, olives and a great deal of reminiscing.
This spread is something of a revelation. It’s from one of my favourite cookbooks – ‘Jerusalem’ by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. If you haven’t heard of Ottolenghi then please get to know him. Amy first introduced his recipes to me while we were at uni, and I promptly bought a copy of ‘Ottolenghi: The Cookbook’ for myself and several others. His first cookbook details the salads, pastries and other amazing things sold at his London based delis, incorporating his influences from all over the world. Whereas Jerusalem does what you’d expect: focuses on Middle Eastern food. I’d recommend getting both.
One of the things that pops up a lot in Ottolenghi’s recipes is date syrup. Although it’s usually quite expensive, I’ve found a cheap source of it in my local Middle Eastern food shop. Other delights that they stock include massive tubs of tahini, pomegranate molasses, fig jam and dried sour cherries. The date syrup is not essential for this dish, but makes it a sublime experience, rather than merely an intensely pleasurable one.
There is a lengthy description about how this dip should be served, something about spreading it onto a plate, making swirls in it with your knife and drizzling over the date syrup. The suggested amount is 2 teaspoons, bearing in mind that the dip is already very sweet just from the squash, but I found it difficult to be so restrained and drenched the whole lot in something approaching 2 tablespoons.
From Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi (quantities slightly adapted)
1 butternut squash
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp light tahini
2 tbsp natural yoghurt
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tsp date syrup
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Peel the butternut squash and scrape out the seeds and fibres with a spoon. Cut into chunks and spread out in a roasting tin. Drizzle over 3 tbsp olive oil and sprinkle over the cinnamon. Roast for around 30-45 minutes, until the squash is soft and the edges are starting to caramelise. Remove from the oven and puree in a food processor or with a stick blender. Add the yoghurt, tahini and garlic, then blend briefly again until combined. Yotam suggests stopping before you get to a completely smooth paste, but it’s up to you.
Serve spread out on a plate with some date syrup drizzled over.