roasted butternut squash and onions with tahini and za’atar

By 13. October 2013 From my kitchen
i consider myself a pretty content person. most of the time, i manage to be actively happy about my life, with everything it includes. and then, there was today…
i was at home preparing a quick meal for myself (roasted acorn squash with butter and rosemary, it was wonderful), picked a cute, matching plate from the shelf where i had lovingly stacked my collection of hand-selected, vintage, various-shaped and -sized tableware. and that’s when it happened: the whole stack of about maybe a dozen plates slips through my fingers… a dozen of my favorite china (some inherited from my aunt), ceramic and faillance, fell to the floor and onto the kitchen counter and shattered into a thousand shards… it was a mess. it was too much. a scream escaped my body and a few angry tears fell onto the shards, immediately. i know it only made things worse to cry. i knew is should probably start to clean up the mess. and yet, i just couldn’t stop crying. why was my life such a sad collection of events? why did i never have any luck? why did everything always have to end shattered, broken and as a mess?
now this was obviously a dramatic moment, and i was overly self-pitying myself. evoked by events that – for me – are among the most nightmarish imaginable (of the materialistic sorts, at least). it caused an instant melodramatic state of mind and extreme questioning myself. nope, doesn’t make any sense. total drama moment. what will go down as ‘the broken table ware’ day. a sad sunday.
but why, you ask, does this accused tableware collection mean so much to me, you ask? well, on the surface, it’s just a bit of china and ceramic. right? nothing objectively precious, or hardly anything of real value. but to me, it wasn’t just a random stack of ceramic. to me, each and every single plate was linked to a story, a place. every single one fulfilled a purpose. none was superfluous. and i kind of feel obliged (however cheesy you think that sounds) to make a concluding inventory of the measly leftovers (i.e feel free to skip this part, as i’m now doing what’s called “licking one’s wounds”, and it won’t be pretty…). 
there was this oval shaped, rather big white plate with the blue ‘dutch’ country pattern on the rim that was rustic and lovely. i never really knew what the blue design was called, but it somehow always reminded me of a toile de jouy.  i found it on the flea market in zurich. then there was a small, rectangle, fine white china plate that i inherited from my aunt, it goes together with a large, round cake plate (which, luckily, didn’t go bust today…). there was a dainty one with a soft, hand-painted dandelion on it and a cute gold-rim. there was a simple white, classy hotel style oval one. and the shabby looking white one with white flower rim from a dutch interior shop i got a couple of years back in maastricht. one with a simple gold rim. and one with tiny painted flowers on it. they were loved, dearly, every single one of them. 
ooopf, so this ‘broken tableware day’ is finally over! thank god. and my mental is state is (almost) back to normal (whatever that means, haha…). summa summarum, the down side is: well, i’m down a dozen plates. which, as a food blogger, basically just really breaks your heart, literally, painfully. the upside is (i’m trying really hard here, you see?): i am now officially and even more so on a hunt for new (to me) vintage serve ware. yay! isn’t life good (when you adapt an optimist’s irrevocably euphemistic view)? as in: it’s all a matter of perspective. aye.
roasted butternut squash with tahini
recipe adapted from yotam ottolenghi
1 large butternut squash
2 red onions
olive oil
maldon sea salt
2 tbsp. tahini
2-4 tbsp. natural yoghurt
1/2 lemon, juice
1 knife point harissa
1 tsp. za’atar
1 tsp. sumac (i found it doesn’t hurt to add a bit extra)
1 bunch thyme, leaves picked
4 tbsp. pine nuts
preheat the oven to 220° c / 420° f and line a baking tray with parchment (good things start with parchment). cut the squash into large chunks (note: leave the skin of the butternut on, it turns soft with roasting… and ofc it’s a darn hassle to remove it… so just forget about it and serve it with the skin, it won’t to any harm, promise). cut the onions in quarters. scatter squash and onions on the sheet. drizzle with olive oil and season with maldon. roast for 45 minutes or until the chunks are partially charred. in the meantime, make the tahini dressing: combine the tahini, lemon juice and the natural yoghurt (note on the yoghurt: ottolenghi makes it without, but somehow this recipe just doesn’t work for me… the fatty tahini always separates from the water and lemon juice… solidifies and doesn’t look very inviting… so i found that using yoghurt is the best option, makes it smooth and creamy and tastes delicious, too). season with salt and harissa. toast the pine nuts in a dry pan for a minute. when the squash is done, arrange on a plate, drizzle with the tahini dressing and sprinkle with za’atar and sumac, liberally. scatter with pine nuts. serve immediately. if you want to serve it cold, let it cool first before scattering with the yoghurt sauce, as it will turn runny.


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