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Food & Drink

Cure Winter Woes with Squash, Chickpeas, and Tahini

Belly up to a warm bowl

Healthy cold-weather comfort food doesn’t mean a measly bowl of greens. Leave it to Food52 senior editor Kristen Miglore to open our eyes to a light winter salad that’s heavy on flavor.

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We’re ready for bright and restorative produce; our farmers markets, however, aren’t quite there yet.

Don’t be defeated, and definitely don’t give up on your local market. There is an answer, and it’s not hothouse tomatoes and cucumbers.

This salad comes from Sam and Sam Clark of Moro restaurant in London, and it puts to use ingredients you probably already have or at least have been side-stepping until now.

It starts by roasting butternut (or any) squash in cubes but throws in some nuance — ground allspice and minced garlic. Then, while they’re still a little warm, you’ll toss them with chickpeas — best cooked from scratch, but a can will do.

A vinaigrette might sink into the squash and slide off the chickpeas. Here, you want a dressing that clings. That’s where tahini comes in — a vegan means of adding smoke, protein, cream, and substance (also an impressive carrier of garlic, lemon, and salt). This dressing has four ingredients, requires just five minutes, and you will want to put it on everything.

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This is a salad that eats more like a gratin, without the cheese hangover.

It’s hefty enough to be the only thing on the table, light enough to not make you groggy, and lively enough to make winter squash — and winter itself — a lot more compelling.

Moro’s Warm Squash and Chickpea Salad with Tahini
Adapted slightly from Casa Moro
Serves four

Ingredients
For the salad
2 lbs. pumpkin or other winter squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-in. cubes
1 garlic clove, crushed
½ tsp. ground allspice
2 tbsp. olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Sea salt and black pepper
14 oz. canned or home-cooked chickpeas, drained
½ small red onion, finely chopped
4 tbsp. roughly chopped fresh cilantro

For the sauce
1 garlic clove, crushed to a paste with a pinch of salt
3½ tbsp. lemon juice
3 tbsp. tahini paste
2 tbsp. water, to taste
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 425°. Toss squash with garlic, allspice, 2 tbsp. olive oil, and salt and pepper. Place on a tray, optionally lined with parchment, and roast 20-25 minutes, or until soft. Remove and allow to cool slightly.

2. While squash is cooking, make the tahini sauce. Mix the crushed garlic with lemon juice. Add the tahini, thin with water and olive oil, and check for seasoning. You should taste a balance between the nutty tahini and lemon.

3. To assemble, place the squash, chickpeas, red onion, and cilantro in a mixing bowl. Pour on the tahini sauce, drizzle oil, and toss carefully. Season with salt and pepper.

Save and print the recipe at food52.com.

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Photos: Courtesy of Food52