Roasted Butternut Squash and Red Onion with Tahini and Israeli Za'atar

"If there is one smell to match the emblematic image of the Old City of Jerusalem, one odor that encapsulates the soul of this ancient city nestling in the Judean Mountains, it is the smell of Za'atar." -- Yotam Ottolenghi, Jerusalem

This iconic recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi's Jerusalem is a delicious, balanced introduction to home-cooked Middle Eastern food. It is very simple to prepare but boasts substantial flavor. A delicious starter, vegetarian main course, or side for a roasted lamb or steak, we find this dish to be incredibly versatile while still being unique!



  • 1 large butternut squash (2 1/4 lb /1.1 kg in total), cut into 3/4 by 2 1/2-inch/2 cm by 6 cm wedges
  • 2 red onions, cut into 1 1/4-inch/3 cm wedges
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons tahini paste
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons water (as needed)
  • 1 small clove garlic, crushed
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons/30 g pine nuts
  • 1/2 tablespoon Israeli Za’atar
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper



Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F. Put the squash and onion in a large bowl and toss with 3 tbsp. oil, 1 tsp. kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Spread on a baking sheet (we suggest placing on parchment paper for easy cleanup) and roast for 30 -35 minutes, until your vegetables have taken on color and are cooked through. Make sure to watch the onions as they may cook faster than the squash and would need to be removed earlier. Remove from the oven and let the vegetables cool.

While your vegetables are cooling, make your dressing. Whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, and garlic. This will likely be too thick to drizzle. Add 1/2 tbsp. of water to the mixture until it resembles the consistency of honey.

Heat the remaining 1.5 tsp. of oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and 1/4 tsp. salt and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until the nuts are golden brown. Remove from heat.

Grind the Israeli Za'atar in a mortar and pestle for about a minute to release the fragrance and oils of the sumac and thyme.

To serve, spread the vegetables out on a large serving platter and drizzle with your tahini dressing. Sprinkle with the toasted pine nuts and the oil from the pine nut pan, along with the ground za'atar and parsley.


Source: Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi

John Karonis

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