Why Should You Try This Recipe?
It’s no secret that I am a lover of Middle Eastern cuisine. Colorful, flavorful, and textural are the first words that come to mind. So when I came across Yotam Ottolenghi’s roasted butternut squash in the Jeruselum cookbook last week, I knew this was a recipe I had to share. I know you’ll love it because:
- Seasonal root vegetables, namely butternut squash, with golden brown bits are the star of the show, with some background highlights of hearty grains, crunchy nuts, and a super special herb blend to make it a complete meal.
- It can be served at any temperature degree – warm, room temperature, or cold – making for a wonderful make-ahead recipe.
- It’s super customizable, meaning you can swap out those maybe hard-to-find Middle Eastern ingredients for ones you already have on hand.
- It’s the best way to use already prepared roasted butternut squash halves or baked butternut squash cubes.
The ingredient list for this easy roasted butternut and onions salad comes in three parts – the vegetables, tahini dressing, and assembled salad.
- Roasted Vegetables: Pick up some butternut squash, red onions, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
If you are new to cooking butternut squash and need a bit of guidance, be sure to check out my guide on how to prepare and cut butternut squash.
- Tahini Dressing: This requires a simple mix of light tahini, lemon juice, chopped garlic clove, water, and Kosher salt. Or, change it up a bit with tahini yogurt dressing for a vegetarian option.
- Bulgur and Mix-ins: Gather together cooked bulgur, za’atar, toasted pine nuts, Italian parsley, flaky sea salt, and black pepper.
If you are new to cooking bulgur be sure to check out my comprehensive guide on how to cook bulgur. In that post, I share everything you need to know about types of bulgur and how to cook them.
A Few Notes on Ingredients:
- Bulgur: Bulgur is cracked wheat that is sold in a number of different varieties. Look for it in the international section of the grocery store. This recipe uses medium coarse bulgur but coarse or even red bulgur would also work. If you are not familiar with types of bulgur, be sure to check out my detailed post on Types of Bulgur Wheat.
If you can’t get your hands on bulgur wheat or are looking for a gluten-free option, use an equal amount of cooked quinoa or pick one of the many bulgur wheat alternatives.
- Za’atar: This unique herb-seed blend is a mix of dried oregano, thyme, and/or marjoram, sumac, and sesame seeds. It’s savory, tangy, and pungent. You can make Za’atar at home or buy it at the store. If all else fails and you can’t get your hands on it, simply use 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds instead.
- Pine Nuts: Buy a small package of pine nuts, since these tend to be the most expensive nut on the market. They are usually sold raw, so toast for a few minutes in the oven when you get home or in a small frying pan over medium-low heat with a little extra oil. With that being said, you can also use walnuts or pumpkin seeds (for a nut free option) in this recipe.
- Fresh herbs: The recipe below uses fresh parsley to finish it off but if you are serving it for your Thanksgiving dinner, you can use chopped sage leaves as well.
- Pomegranate Seeds: Sprinkle on a handful of pomegranate seeds for extra pop and color.
- Citrus Zest: Add some lemon zest from a large lemon or even orange zest at the very end.
How to Make Middle Eastern Butternut Squash Salad
This is a simple butternut squash salad with a bit more bulk. The toasty pine nuts and za’atar give it a world of Middle Eastern flair.
- Season vegetables: Preheat the oven to 425 °F. Place butternut squash and red onion wedges in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle with a few tablespoons of the olive oil and sprinkle with teaspoon salt and pepper. Toss well, making sure that all vegetables are coated with olive oil and seasoning.
- Roast vegetables: Transfer the vegetables to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spread into one even layer. Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until tender and onions are slightly brown. The onions might cook a bit earlier so keep a close eye on it after the 20-minute mark. Set aside to cool.
- Make the dressing: Whisk tahini paste, lemon juice, garlic, water, and a pinch of salt in a small bowl.
- Assemble the salad: Place cooled butternut squash mixture in a large salad bowl and add the bulgur. Drizzle with the dressing and give it a very gentle stir. Sprinkle with za’atar, toasted pine nuts, and chopped parsley. Taste for seasoning and add more, if necessary.
How to Make Ahead and Store
I put a little spin on the original roasted butternut squash with red onion and added some bulk with bulgur wheat. This small addition adds some oomph and holds up well in the fridge.
- Vegetables: Roast as directed and store in an airtight container in the fridge.
- Tahini Dressing: Mix as directed, then transfer to a mason jar. Keep in the fridge until ready to serve.
- Bulgur and Mix-Ins: Store the cooked bulgur on its own, with the chopped parsley sprinkled on top, if desired. Store the toasted pine nuts in a small container on the kitchen counter.
Leftovers will keep for up to 5 days in an airtight container in the fridge. I do not recommend freezing the salad.
- Use two large baking sheets, if necessary. The vegetables will roast and caramelize much more efficiently when spread out into one single layer. I lined the sheets with large parchment paper. If you use aluminum foil, the vegetables will roast a few minutes faster.
- Adjust the consistency of the lemon-tahini sauce. The tahini paste may need more water depending on how runny you would like it. I like to mix it until it is the consistency of honey. Adjust with more tahini or water and taste test as you go.
- Go for plenty of pepper. A good grind of pepper highlights the sweet squash beautifully.
- This easy salad recipe multiplies well so feel free to double or triple the recipe if you are serving a crowd.
Other Fall Salad Recipes You Might Like:
- Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad
- Kale Harvest Salad
- Ina Garten’s Butternut Squash Salad
- Roasted Delicata Squash recipe
Ottolenghi Butternut Squash Salad Recipe with Bulgur and Tahini Dressing
For The Vegetables:
- 2 lbs large butternut squash peeled and cut into cubes
- 2 medium-size red onions peeled and cut into wedges
- 3 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
- 1/4 teaspoom Black Pepper
For The Tahini Dressing:
- 3 tablespoon tahini paste shake well before use
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice freshly squeezed
- 2 garlic cloves pressed through a garlic press or minced
For The Salad:
- 2 tablespoon pine nuts toasted
- 1 tablespoon za’atar *
- 1 tablespoon Italian parsley chopped
- 1 cup cooked bulgur
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- To roast the vegetables: Pre-heat the oven to 425 Degrees F. Place butternut squash and red onion wedges in a large bowl. Drizzle it with olive oil. Sprinkle it with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Spread them evenly on the sheet pan. Toss well, making sure that all vegetables are coated with olive oil and seasoning. Transfer it to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Keep a close eye on it as onions may roast before butternut squash. That being said, I allowed my onions brown a little bit for them to give a caramelized flavor to my salad.
- Take it out of the oven and set aside to cool.
- To make the dressing: Whisk tahini paste, lemon juice, garlic, and water in a small bowl.
- To assemble the salad: Once vegetables are cooled down, place them in a large salad bowl. Add the bulgur and gently stir.
- Drizzle with the dressing over the salad. Give it a very gentle stir. Sprinkle it with za’atar, toasted pine nuts, and chopped parsley. Taste for seasoning and if necessary, add more.
- Serve it immediately in individual plates.
- If you are new to cooking with bulgur, be sure to check out my foolproof recipe for cooking bulgur
- If you can’t get your hands on za’atar, you can make your own by mixing together 1 teaspoon each of oregano, thyme, sumac, and sesame seeds. Or, simply use 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds instead.
- Leftovers will keep for up to 5 days in an airtight container in the fridge. I do not recommend freezing the salad.
This recipe is adapted (with minor changes) from the cookbook: Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi (affiliate link.)