Getting to really know a person is one of the greatest joys of life. Romantic or platonic, cracking through layers of someone else’s personality is like a journey in and of itself. When you first meet someone, there’s usually a “crust” involved, as my friend the thinker so eloquently and accurately stated the other day. People are never really their true, quirky selves when you meet them. At least I’m not…I’m on my best behavior until the weirdness seeps through. In discovering new things about a person, layers upon layers need to be sifted through and revealed. Each new facet of the personality gets uncovered slowly, as you get closer to that person. Someone that seemed hum-drum or ordinary can quickly become the most fascinating thing to happen to you in a long, long time. And time is all it takes.
This butternut squash side seems unassuming at first, and like the flavors wouldn’t go together. Sweet spiced squash? Lime?! and uh…jalapeno? Seriously…..it sounds weird. But one bite changes your mind. As the bite is experienced, one can understand how these flavors mesh perfectly together. First you taste sweet cinnamon, then get hit with tart lime, and at the end the jalapeno provides just a smidge of spiciness that seems necessary. Lastly, it’s topped with a yogurt sesame sauce which lends creaminess, smoke, and cold temperature. Through the experience of this dish, flavors are revealed, one after the other, layer upon layer, in a way that lets you know it fits perfectly together.
While some weird sounding dishes definitely are not worth cracking into, this one is. Time and patience is all that is needed. In the same way that some people are definitely not worthy of getting to know, the ones that are, really are if you just give them a chance. They could turn out to be the best you’ve ever known.
Cinnamon roasted butternut squash with lime & jalapeno
Adapted from Plenty
Notes: Ottolenghi used cardamom in place of cinnamon, but it can be expensive and difficult to find. I used cinnamon instead. Feel free to use cardamom or cardamom pods if you wish.
I used the sauce here, but easily keep this dish vegan but omitting the yogurt and just sticking with tahini and lemon. Never heard of tahini? It’s just ground sesame seeds and it’s delicious. It can be found at all supermarkets.
3 tbsp olive oil
1 medium (about 2 pounds) butternut squash
2-3 teaspoons cinnamon or cardamom, to your liking
1 tsp ground allspice
For yogurt sauce
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons tahini paste
1 tbsp lime juice
1 green chili, thinly sliced
Cilantro leaves, to garnish
Set your oven at 425 degrees F.
Start off by segmenting the limes. Trim off the limes’ tops and tails using a small, sharp knife. Stand each lime on a chopping-board and cut down the sides of the fruit, following its natural curves, to remove the skin and white pith. Quarter the limes from top to bottom, and cut each quarter into thin slices. Place them in a small bowl, sprinkle with a little salt, drizzle with 1 tbsp of the olive oil, stir and set aside.
Next, cut the butternut in half lengthways, scoop out the seeds and discard. Cut each half, top to bottom, into 1cm (½in) thick slices. Slice off the peel, if you wish, and arrange the slices on a large baking-sheet lined with parchment paper.
Add the cinnamon and allspice and the remaining 2 tbsp oil, stir well and brush over the butternut slices. Sprinkle a little salt and place in the oven for 15 minutes or until tender when tested with the point of a knife. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, whisk together the yogurt, tahini, lime juice, 2 tbsp water and a pinch of salt. The sauce should be thick but runny enough to pour; add more water if necessary.
To serve, arrange the cooled butternut slices on a serving platter and drizzle with the yogurt sauce. Spoon over the lime slices and their juices and scatter the chilli slices over the top. Garnish with the coriander and serve.