Roasted Squash with Yogurt, Walnuts and Spiced Green Sauce

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Prep Time: 75 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4

In his cookbook Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables, Chef Joshua McFadden describes this dish by saying, “Such a stunning dish, and with so little work. I look for a mix of squash that will have differently shaped slices so that you get some drama on the platter.” For the white wine vinegar, McFadden likes to use KATZ Sauvignon Blanc vinegar, which uses late-harvest grapes, resulting in a complex, slightly sweet vinegar that pairs well with vegetables. The recipe for the green sauce makes twice as much as you will need, but there are countless ways to use it. At McFadden’s restaurant Ava Gene’s, they use in on vegetables, grilled meats and snacks of all kinds. Try using it to season a pita sandwich, spread it on grilled flatbreads as they come off the grill or drizzle it over roasted red peppers and top with crumbled feta. To reduce the heat of the sauce, use milder chiles such as poblano or Anaheim.

Ingredients:

For the spiced green sauce:

  • 1/2 tsp. coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • Seeds from 4 green or black cardamom pods
  • 1/2 cup deribbed, seeded and coarsely chopped fresh hot green chiles, such as serrano (2 to 4 chiles)
  • 1 to 3 garlic cloves (to taste), smashed and peeled
  • 2 cups (2 oz./60 g) lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 cups (2 oz./60 g) lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • A pinch of ground cloves
  • 1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • About 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 1/2 cups (12 oz./375 g) plain whole-milk or low-fat yogurt
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • About 2 lb. (1 kg) winter squash, such as kabocha and acorn squash (one type or a mixture)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. slightly sweet white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup (1 oz./30 g) walnuts, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped
  • Butternut squash oil or pumpkin seed oil (optional)
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal (optional)

Directions:

To make the spiced green sauce, put the coriander, cumin and cardamom seeds in a dry skillet. Toast the spices lightly over medium heat, shaking the pan frequently, just until they become fragrant, about 4 minutes. Dump them out of the skillet onto a plate to cool, then grind finely in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle.

Put the chiles and garlic in a food processor and pulse few times until they are fairly finely chopped. Add the cilantro, parsley, toasted seeds, ground cloves, lemon zest and juice, 1 tsp. kosher salt and few grindings of black pepper. Pulse until everything is finely chopped into a coarse puree. With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil. Stop the processor before the sauce is completely blended and smooth; you want a slightly "bitty" texture.

Taste the sauce (be careful of the blade!) and adjust the seasoning with more salt, black pepper, lemon juice or any of the spices—though show restraint with the spices, because they can get overwhelming. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. The sauce can be made up to 1 week in advance.

Line a sieve with some dampened cheesecloth and set over a bowl. (If you don't have cheesecloth, you can use paper coffee filters, but the draining time will be slightly longer.) Put the yogurt in the cheesecloth and let it sit for at least 1 hour, so the whey drains out and the yogurt gets thick and creamy (save the whey to use in a smoothie or something; it's nutritious!).

In a bowl, stir together the drained yogurt, garlic, lemon zest and 1/4 tsp. salt. Set aside.

Trim off the top and bottom of the squash, then peel away the skin with a paring knife or sturdy vegetable peeler. Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds and fibers with a stiff spoon, and cut the squash into 1/2-inch (12-mm) slices.

Toss the squash, either in a large bowl or directly on a rimmed baking sheet, with 2 Tbs. olive oil and a generous seasoning of salt and pepper. Spread out on one or two rimmed baking sheets, and roast until tender and nicely browned on the bottom, 20 to 40 minutes, depending on the texture of the squash. Let the squash cool slightly on the baking sheet(s).

To serve, arrange the squash slices on a platter, spoon a ribbon of yogurt on top and then sprinkle with the vinegar. Drizzle or spoon half of the green sauce over the squash so it looks pretty. Scatter the walnuts on the dish and finish with a few drops of the squash oil (if using) or some olive oil. (Reserve the rest of the green sauce for another use.) Serve warm or at room temperature, garnished with the green onions, if using. Serves 4.

Adapted from Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables, by Joshua McFadden with Martha Holmberg (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2017.

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