A Holiday Fruit Cake (not Fruitcake)
Saturday, November 30, 2013
As should be pretty clear by now, quinces are one of my favorite fall/winter fruits, and since they’re sadly a bit of a luxury to find, I generally mix them with apples to stretch them further, and because they get along so well together, as in this fragrant and holiday-appropriate cake. If you don’t care for or can’t find quinces, you can make the cake with just apples and apple butter, as the original recipe did, and it will also be great.
If you don’t make your own quince jam, you can often find it in Mediterranean or Middle Eastern markets. More likely, you’ll instead be able to find the dried and pressed Spanish version, dulce de membrillo, at your local cheese shop, which will work just fine once loosened back up with a bit of extra liquid.
Apple-Quince Bundt Cake
(Adapted from Dorie Greenspan, Baking: From My Home to Yours, 2006)
1 large quince, or 1/2 cup golden raisins
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, slightly softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup quince jam, or quince paste gently heated with enough water to loosen to a jam-like consistency
2 tart-sweet apples, peeled, cored and grated
1 cup hazelnuts, toasted, skinned and roughly chopped
1/3 cup powdered sugar
2-3 tablespoons apple cider or milk
If using the quince, peel and core it, then chop it into four or so large pieces. Poach the quince in just enough water to cover until it has changed color (anywhere from buttery-yellow to salmon, depending on the variety) and is tender when pierced with a sharp knife. Drain off the liquid, chop the quince into small dice, and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350F, and butter and flour a large (12-cup) bundt pan.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt.
Place the butter and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and cream together until smooth and thick. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between additions, then beat in the quince jam at lower speed. Mix in the grated apple, followed by the dry ingredients, mixing only until incorporated. Fold in the diced quince or raisins and the hazelnuts.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until the top is golden and springy, and a cake tester inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 5 minutes, then unmold the cake and cool completely.
To glaze the cake, mix just enough cider or milk into the powdered sugar to make a thick but free-flowing icing. Drizzle the icing evenly over the cake, letting it run down the sides. Let the icing firm up before slicing the cake.
Leftovers keep well in an airtight container for 2-3 days, although it’s best to glaze it the same day you serve it.
Market Highlights - Sept 4, 2013
Sunday, September 08, 2013
Much as we may want to deny it, summer is definitely heading out the door and fall is on its way in. You may be able to ignore the first few apples, but you really can’t argue with pears and hard squash. That said, there are still plenty of late tomatoes, cucumbers, berries, and even some peaches to be snapped up while you still can!
Better Traveling Through Food
Sunday, September 01, 2013
I’ve written in the past about my attempts to eat local food when I am traveling. This may seem obvious while vacationing on an organic farming Tuscany, but less so while in London. Still, the way I eat at home has fundamentally altered the way I eat elsewhere, whether I am working or traveling. While on my latest trip to Italy (a return to the beautiful Spannochia in central Tuscany), I saw three very distinct ways that eating local has actually improved my travel.
Vetting Restaurants. So much dining out when you travel can be a lot of fun, but the search for something worthwhile can also be exhausting. Whether the restaurant has ceased to exist since your guidebook was printed or the address of buildings seem to have no logic whatsoever, we’ve all found ourselves in that miserable state of hunger and fatigue from a fruitless search. You might think that in Italy it’s hard to have a bad meal. While that may be true (though I certainly don’t want to conduct that experiment and be proven wrong), it is also difficult to find a truly outstanding meal in the heavily-touristed places I have recently travelled to in Italy. (E.g., Most of the gelato I tasted was actually inferior to Philly’s own Capogiro.) The Slow Food organization has been indispensable guide to quality restaurants in Italy. Any meal I have eaten at a Slow-Food-endorsed restaurant has been outstanding and because its food is somehow indicative of its location, quite unique and unlike anything I might have here. Also, as much as I love the good folks at Lonely Planet, they are not restaurant critics by any stretch.
Getting off the Beaten Path. Though I am not a particularly intrepid traveller, looking for local food has made it a bit more interesting. Even when I purchase imported wine, I try purchase from small wineries that are organic or biodynamic. (Down to Earth Wines has been a consistently excellent source for them.) In fact, through a recent purchase from Down to Earth, I was very impressed with wines of Montenidoli - so much so that I arranged a tasting when we traveled to Italy. For nearly two hours, our host, Alberto, graciously showed us the estate and discussed their impressive wines. Montenidoli is, however, quite far off the beaten track, even in such a heavily touristed area.
Eating Less Formally. For whatever reason, I tend to think of sitting down to three proper meals when I travel. I have been drifting from that recently, and I suspect it has something to do with years of going to farmers markets and eating from food stalls. Now when I travel, I try to continue this “informal dining.” This was particularly true of our time in London, where we had fantastic - and fantastically cheap - meals at both Borough Market and the Sunday Upmarket. This both left more time for sightseeing and more money to spend on dinner at such fantastic places as Terroirs Wine Bar.
Market Highlights - August 14 2013
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Although all the great summer vegetables are still there, this week’s marketing was all about the fruit for me. The full rainbow of plums are available now, along with peaches, nectarines, berries, melons, and just peeking behind them to remind us that fall is right around the corner, the first of the apples. Just before Labor Day, I will load up on all those plum varieties to make jam, but for now I grabbed a few each of the Italian and Santa Rosa ones, which may end up as popsicles this weekend to test out my fancy new molds.
Speaking of popsicles, I also grabbed my still-favorite of all: Vietnamese iced coffee.
Market Highlights - July 31, 2013
Thursday, August 01, 2013
Summer is still in full swing in the markets, with tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant both baby and big particularly catching my eye this week, making me want to make ratatouille, caponata, or maybe a lightly-cooked vegetable stew. The stone fruits are a little riper too, although they’re not quite at their peak just yet. I think the nectarines I bought are going to end up on baguette slices with brie, broiled, and maybe drizzled with a little honey for breakfast on Saturday, before I do my second round of farmers marketing for the week. Although the Saturday market is more varied, it does lack my favorite feature of the mid-week one:
Did you know Lil’ Pop Shop has a frequent-buyer card? Next week, I get a free popsicle for lunch!
Market Highlights - July 24, 2013
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
We’ve decided to highlight what’s going on in the area farmers markets, so this will be the first of hopefully many regular market reports. From the looks of the University City Wednesday market on Penn’s campus, summer is in full swing, with everything from eggplant to cane berries available now. I was tempted by all the heirloom tomatoes, corn, peppers and stone fruit, but because whatever I buy has to be lugged home on regional rail, I save my major marketing for the weekend instead. I just picked up some mixed cherry tomatoes, some lovely little sugarplums, a few peaches that should be great after a few days on my counter to reach their peak, and, of course, a popsicle from the Lil’ Pop Shop truck for lunch.
Keeping Your Cool
Thursday, July 11, 2013
Gazpacho is one of my main strategies for getting through July and August. Preparing a big batch on Sunday not only makes wonderful use out of all the seasonal produce pouring into the markets, but also gives you a ready-made, colorful and refreshing dinner to look forward to when you’re slogging home through the sweltering humidity on Monday evening. It’s also perfect as a festive first course for barbecues and brunches all the way through Labor Day.
While tomato-based red gazpacho is fantastic, especially when made with a mix of heirloom varieties, white gazpacho is an equally traditional way to highlight cucumbers and the fresh garlic now making its first appearance. The base of almonds and bread creates a soup that’s creamy and silky without being overly rich or heavy. While the straining step is a bit of extra work, the soup still comes together in minutes (not counting the half hour of chilling in the fridge), and doesn’t raise the temperature of your kitchen by a single degree.
(Adapted from Jose Andres, Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America)
8 ounces blanched, slivered almonds
1-2 cloves fresh garlic
2 ounces stale French- or Italian-style bread (not whole grain)
1 medium cucumber, peeled and roughly chopped
2 1/2 cups filtered or mineral water
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Place the almonds and garlic in a large bowl or liquid measuring cup and cover with boiling water. Let sit for a few minutes, drain, and repeat with more boiling water. Drain and place in the carafe of a blender.
While the almonds are soaking for the second time, moisten the bread in cold water just long enough to soften. Squeeze dry and add to the blender, along with the remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth.
Pour the gazpacho through a double layer of cheesecloth in a strainer set over a large bowl. Once most of the liquid has passed through the cheesecloth, gather up the ends of the cloth to completely enclose the solids, twist the top of the gathered ends tightly, and squeeze to extract the last of the soup. Discard the solids.
Pour the gazpacho into a pitcher, cover tightly, and chill at least 30 minutes. It is normal for the gazpacho to separate as it sits; just give it a quick whisk before serving.
Tired Hands Brewing Company
Sunday, June 30, 2013
Delaware County is, relatively speaking, bereft of restaurants that focus on locally grown foods. Here in Aldan and the surrounding areas, you’re more likely to find chain restaurants and diners than anything else. There’s Sycamore in Lansdowne, but they stopped serving brunch years ago. What’s a girl to do on a Sunday morning?
The answer is: drive to Ardsmore.
True, half of Ardsmore is in Montgomery County, but beggars can’t be choosers. I’m not sure which half of Ardsmore Tired Hands Brewing Company is in, but I’ll claim it for Delco! Tired Hands is a little over a year old now. However, they’re major players in the microbrewery world already, and they’re routinely featuring locally made cheeses and other local ingredients.
Today I had a small glass of 5 out of 5 beer, a dark beer containing chocolate and marshmallow fluff, and Lil Lady, a lighter beer with rooibos tea. Both feature local ingredients—the 5 out of 5 has local maple syrup, and the Lil Lady has local wildflower honey. I also a cheese plate composed of several cheeses from Birchrun Hills Farm, including Nettlesome, Red Cat, and Equinox, and Pepato from Valley Shepherd. The Jeano’s Panino, a grilled cheese with haricot vert, featured Birchrun Hills Farm blue cheese.
The charcuterie plate was also filled with great meats. The sopressata and abbruze came from Licini Brothers in Union City, New Jersey, while the amazing duck prosciutto is from River & Glen in Warminster.
If you’re near Ardmore, give Tired Hands a try. The service was friendly, the food was quite good, and I loved the focus on locally grown foods. And I didn’t even have to leave Delaware County!
Saturday, June 29, 2013
For some reason, I always associate crepes with colder weather, but the truth is that they’re accommodating all year round, as demonstrated by these vaguely Provencal-style ones filled with zucchini and mushrooms, and topped with a bright, uncooked tomato sauce. As the summer moves along, you could augment the filling with eggplant, fresh peas, pattypan squashes, etc., and you can make use of the rainbow of heirloom tomatoes that will start showing up in a couple of weeks.
These make a very satisfying dinner as-is, or if you want to serve these for brunch, you could quickly scramble a few eggs and tuck them into the crepes before the vegetable filling.
Zucchini-Mushroom Buckwheat Crepes with Raw Tomato Sauce
(Crepes adapted from Deborah Madison & Edward Espe Brown, The Greens Cookbook, 1987)
1 cup water
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons melted butter
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2-3 tablespoons neutral-flavored oil for cooking
2 ripe tomatoes
1 small clove garlic
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Salt to taste
3 small zucchini, grated
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
4 tablespoons olive oil for cooking
2 small cloves garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
Place all the ingredients for the crepe batter except the oil in a tall measuring cup and blend with an immersion blender until smooth. (Alternately, you can do this in a regular blender.) Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.
To prepare the sauce, halve the tomatoes and grate them, cut side down, on the large side of a box grater set over a bowl. Discard the skin you’re left with when the flesh has all been grated. Finely mince the garlic (I just use a microplane grater) and add it to the tomatoes, along with the olive oil and salt to taste. Let sit at room temperature while making the filling and crepes.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the garlic, sautéing briefly before adding the zucchini. Cook, stirring frequently, until the zucchini is softened and the liquid has cooked off, then remove from the pan. Increase the heat to medium-high, and add the rest of the olive oil and the mushrooms, cooking until the edges have browned. Turn off the heat, return the zucchini to the pan, and season to taste.
Heat a teaspoon of oil in a small nonstick pan or crepe pan over medium heat. Give the batter a quick whisk before ladling about 1/4 cup of batter into the heated pan and swirling the pan quickly to evenly spread the batter. Cook until the crepe has set and is beginning to crisp at the edges, then flip and cook the other side briefly. Remove the crepe to a plate and repeat the process with the remaining batter, adding more oil every three or so crepes, or whenever they show signs of sticking. Adjust the temperature as necessary to prevent excessive browning. If the batter is too thick to swirl easily in the pan, whisk in a little more water to thin back to the consistency of heavy cream.
To serve, fill the bottom half of each crepe with a few spoonfuls of filling, flip over the other half of the crepe, and fold in half to get quarters. Place two or three filled crepes on a plate per person, and top with a generous spoonful of the sauce.
Leftover unfilled crepes, filling and sauce will all keep well for at least a day in the refrigerator, although both the crepes and the sauce are best freshly-made.
An Easy, Icy Summer Treat
Saturday, May 25, 2013
This sprightly pink granita is just about the perfect Memorial Day barbecue dessert, since it’s the most refreshing use of the strawberries and rhubarb that are in the market together right now, and also really easy to prepare. No ice cream makers or other special equipment needed; just a fork and a little patience and time.
I do have to confess that when I made this two weeks ago, I had to use frozen berries, because fresh ones hadn’t arrived yet. I generally find that the window when both strawberries and rhubarb are available is pretty narrow, so there’s normally only about one magic week or two to make strawberry-rhubarb pie or what have you using both fresh rhubarb and local berries. This is why I over-buy rhubarb pretty much every time I see it, clean and trim the extra portion as soon as I get home, and throw the sliced rhubarb into bags and freeze for use in July and beyond.
In fact, if you cheat with both frozen rhubarb and frozen berries, you could make this granita all the way into the fall and winter, when, served in little shot or liqueur glasses, it would make a smashing palate-cleanser between courses during your fancy holiday dinner.
Serves 4-6 as dessert, 8 or more as a palate cleanser
3 cups white wine
1 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons mild honey
1/4 teaspoon dried orange peel or 1 teaspoon fresh grated orange zest
Pinch of salt
1 12-ounce bag frozen strawberries, or 3 cups fresh, hulled and halved
2 to 2 1/2 pounds rhubarb, trimmed and sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
1 teaspoon orange extract or orange liqueur
Juice of half a lemon
Combine the wine, sugar, honey, orange peel, salt and strawberries in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a strong simmer and cook 10 minutes, then remove the strawberries with a slotted spoon. Add the rhubarb and return to a simmer, cooking until the rhubarb has softened but before it falls apart, around 5-6 minutes.
Strain the syrup through a fine mesh strainer into a large measuring cup or bowl, stirring the rhubarb frequently to remove as much of the glowing magenta liquid as possible. Stir in the orange extract and lemon and cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until completely chilled. (The cooked rhubarb can be mixed with the strawberries and used as a topping for yogurt, ice cream, etc.)
When the syrup has chilled, pour it into a 8 x 8 Pyrex baking dish or other similarly sized, shallow, freezer-safe container. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and freeze until the syrup begins to form ice crystals around the edge of the dish, around 40 minutes. Using a fork, stir and scrape to break up the crystals and distribute throughout the unfrozen syrup, re-cover the dish, and return to the freezer. Repeat this process every half hour or so until all of the syrup has frozen and formed a fluffy mass of crystals.
Scoop the granita into shot or cordial glasses to serve as a palate cleanser between courses, or into larger glasses for dessert, garnishing with mint or sliced strawberries if desired.
Leftover granita should keep for a few days in the freezer, although you may need to re-scrape if the crystals have formed larger clumps. If it completely solidifies, you can either let it melt and repeat the process above, or break it up into large chunks and run it through the blender with more berries and some additional orange juice to serve as a slushie, or with rum or tequila for a frozen cocktail.
Volunteers Needed: Rittenhouse Market
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
With farmers’ market season fast approaching (and, in some cases, in full swing), there are some great opportunities to get involved and help keep them afloat. The folks at Farm to City are looking for a few good volunteers for the Saturday farmers’ market in Rittenhouse Square. Volunteer shifts are 2.25 hours long, and duties vary:
- Answering customer questions about the market and vendors
- Providing information on Farm to City programs and sustainable agriculture
- Conducting surveys with farmers’ market customers
- Taking customer counts
- Communicating suggestions and other feedback form the community to Farm to City staff
As you probably know, the Rittenhouse Farmers’ Market happens every Saturday from 9am to 3pm at 18th and Walnut Streets, both on south sidewalk of Walnut St and west sidewalk of 18th Street. Volunteers are asked to commit to a regular volunteer shift (once a week, once or twice a month, etc.). That said, they’re open to any one who is willing to lend their time to this great cause!
*photo credit: Marisa McClellan
Last Year’s Jam
Wednesday, May 01, 2013
I’m not a super-preserver or anything, but by this point, I’ve established a regular seasonal pattern of jam-making: sour cherry at the beginning of summer, plum at the end of summer, and quince in the late fall. While I’ve also finally achieved a decent amount of cabinet space in my kitchen, it’s not unlimited, which means right around now I start thinking about clearing out some space to prepare for the cycle to begin again.
I used some of the plum as a cake filling a couple of weeks ago, and this week I rolled a jar of the quince into some buttery, flaky rugelach. (The sour cherry, alas, never seems to make it past a few months, because I love it too much.) You can use whichever jar is pushing its way to the front of your pantry, or whatever looks good at the market this weekend.
(Adapted from Rugelach, Alice Medrich’s Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy, 2010)
Makes 48 cookies
For the pastry:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 16 cubes
8 tablespoons (1 8-ounce block) cold cream cheese, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup jam needing to be used up, in this case quince
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
Fine sea salt for sprinkling
Combine the flour, sugar and salt for the pastry in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix briefly to blend the dry ingredients, then add the butter and mix on low until mostly broken up and the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Mix in the cream cheese just until a damp, shaggy dough forms, then turn out onto a clean countertop and knead briefly to create a mostly cohesive block. Divide into four equal parts and pat into 4-inch disks, tightly wrapping each individually. Refrigerate at least two hours and preferably overnight.
When ready to bake, line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners and preheat the oven to 350 F.
Roll one disk of pastry between sheets of parchment paper to a diameter of 12 inches and a thickness of about a quarter inch. Spread the pastry with a quarter of the jam, and evenly coat with a quarter of the walnuts and a small pinch of salt. Using a pizza cutter or sharp chef’s knife, slice the pastry into 12 approximately equal wedges. Starting with the outside edge, roll each wedge toward the point and place, point-side down, on a lined cookie sheet. Repeat with the remaining wedges, setting the cookies 2 inches apart. Place the cookie sheet in the refrigerator to firm the cookies back up as you repeat the process with the remaining pastry disks, jam and walnuts.
Bake each sheet of cookies on the center rack for 25-28 minutes, until pale gold on top and a slightly darker golden brown at the edges, rotating the pans as necessary for even browning. Immediately transfer the baked cookies on their parchment to cooling racks and cool completely.
Cookies will keep well in airtight containers for up to 5 days.
Should you go organic?
Monday, April 22, 2013
Happy Earth Day! Nourish your body while being conscious of the environment.
Foods must meet strict requirements to be labeled as certified “organic” by the United States Department of Agriculture. Products must be produced without excluded methods such as genetic engineering, ionizing radiation, or sewage sludge. However, some operations are exempt from certification, including organic farmers who sell $5,000 or less. Foods advertised as “natural” do not follow the same guidelines as organic foods.
What does the organic label mean?
-100% organic: all ingredients must be certified organic and any processing aids must be organic.
-Organic: non-organic ingredients are allowed per National List, up to a combined total of 5% of non-organic content.
-“Made with” organic: at least 70% must be certified organic ingredients. Any remaining products are not required to be organic but must be produced without excluded methods.
Organic does not always mean healthy, consider the type and amount of foods you are eating. Organic baked goods, chips, and energy drinks should still be consumed sparingly just like the non-organic products.
Overall, the scientific studies are inconclusive on whether there is a difference in nutritional content of organic compared to non-organic foods. You heard it before, but fruits and vegetables are beneficial for your health. Get to know your local farmers and their farming methods. This benefit will be achieved regardless if the produce is organic or not, so do not let access or affordability to organic foods reduce your fruit and vegetable intake.
Where to begin?
Dirty Dozen Plus™: apples, celery, sweet bell peppers, peaches, strawberries, nectarines, grapes, spinach, lettuce, cucumbers, blueberries, potatoes, green beans, kale/greens. The Environmental Working Group has recognized these fruits and vegetables to be most contaminated with pesticide residue.
1. Organic certification resources page. United States Department of Agriculture web site. http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?navid=ORGANIC_CERTIFICATIO. Accessed on March 26, 2013.
2. EWR’s 2012 shopper guide to pesticides in produce. Environmental Working Group. http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/. Accessed on March 26, 2013.
New Hope: Eat Local and Support a Local Author
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
This weekend I’m heading to New Hope, Pennsylvania for a signing of my new novel at Farley’s Bookshop, which I’m quite excited about—and not just because of my author event. New Hope has always seemed kind of magical to me, for reasons I’ve never quite been able to articulate. It may have something to do with the really great chocolate shop. Or it could have something to do with all the restaurants.
There are some really great places to eat that feature locally produce, so if you’re going to be there soon (either for my book signing, to which you are cordially invited) here are some places to check out:
Sprig & Vine: This vegan restaurant is on Union Square Drive. It changes menus routinely to focus on the best locally grown produce they can get their hands on. Right now you can get locally grown salads, as well as a small plate of pickled local cauliflower and baby carrots.
Cafe Blue Moose: Located on West Mechanic Street, Blue Moose features locally-sourced foods and an eclectic menu. The place has a neat story—it was started in 2006 by a couple of teenagers.
Triumph Brewing Company: There’s a Triumph Brewing outpost on Union Square. In recent years Triumph has added locally grown ingredients to their menu—that includes cheese from Cherry Grove and Valley Shepherd Creamery, as well as meat, produce, and fruit from local growers. Plus, you know, good beer.
Marhaba: Across the bridge from New Hope is Marhaba, a great BYOB Middle Eastern restaurant. They also strive to use local ingredients.
If you’re in New Hope on Saturday, April 20, after you’ve stuffed yourself full of great food, stop by Farley’s from 1-4pm. I’ll be signing copies of THE TRAJECTORY OF DREAMS (which you can also pick up at Farley’s), and I’ll also be pelting people with a fun giveaway: astronaut rubber duckies.
Thursday, March 28, 2013
I really hope this is the last of the winter produce recipes until Thanksgiving, not because I don’t love hard squashes, cabbages and brassicas, but because I am really just sick of winter. My longing for asparagus and rhubarb is starting to become acute, and each of these spring snows is making me despair that tomato season is never coming.
While we’re all cursing the groundhog, this butternut squash spread is at least a bright and sunny color, and warmly spicy enough to maybe convince yourself that you’re in the Mediterranean, if you close your eyes. It’s adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s beautiful cookbook, Jerusalem, and combines caramelized roasted squash and tahini into a hummus-like dip. This version has been made vegan by replacing the original yogurt with soft cooked red lentils and a hit of lemon juice, and instead of plain cinnamon I used a Syrian spice mix. You could use za’atar, ras el hanout, berbere, or any similar blend if you prefer.
Roasted Butternut Spread
(Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, Jerusalem: A Cookbook, 2012)
For roasting the squash:
1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into roughly 1-inch cubes
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon Middle Eastern spice mix of choice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
For the spread:
1/4 cup red lentils
1/2 cup water
5 tablespoons tahini
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste
Preheat oven to 400 F. Toss the butternut cubes with the oil, spice mix and salt in a roasting pan. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and roast the squash until soft all the way through and slightly caramelized on the edges, approximately 1 hour. Cool completely.
Boil the lentils and water in a small saucepan over medium heat until the lentils have completely broken down, adding just as much water as needed to prevent them from drying out until they reach that point.
Combine the roasted squash, cooked lentils, tahini, garlic and lemon in the bowl of a food processor and pulse just until chunky. Add more lemon juice and salt as needed, then add the olive oil and pulse a few more times to combine.
Serve in a shallow bowl, garnished with an additional drizzle of olive oil, and with pita chips or crudités on the side.