Colorful & comforting seasonal recipes for savory dishes, sweets and cocktails. 

Spicy Butternut Squash Dip & Dukkah

Spicy Butternut Squash Dip & Dukkah

I love cooking with butternut squash. My only qualm is how difficult it is to slice open and my fear of losing a finger every time. The Kitchn suggests this hack: roast it whole (like whole whole) for about 15-20 minutes to soften it a bit, making slicing much easier.

This spicy butternut squash dip is a great way to use leftover butternut squash, but, armed with this new squash-cutting tip, I don't mind cooking one just for the occasion. The dip uses sambal oelek chile paste for the heat with a touch of honey, cilantro and yogurt. I love it on it's own, but the nutty fragrant crunch of the dukkah makes it a showstopper. 

The first time I had dukkah--an Egyptian spice blend of toasted nuts and seeds--was as a homemade gift from my sister & brother in law. I was hooked and found myself sprinkling it on everything: fried eggs, soups, dips, braised meats, or whisked into salad dressings. My favorite way to enjoy it is to combine it with olive oil and sop it up with fresh bread. 

This particular dukkah calls for a wide range of nuts and seeds, but you can modify it using what you have on hand. Make a big batch and jar it up for gifts. 

Dukkah
Makes about 5 cups
1 cup almonds
1/4 cup pistachios
1/4 cup peanuts
1/2 cup cashews
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup coriander seeds
1/4 cup cumin seeds
2 tablespoons fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorn
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Roast the nuts and seeds separately to ensure even browning. Combine just the nuts (almonds, pistachios, peanuts and cashews) in a large mixing bowl. Spread out on a large baking sheet and roast in the oven at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 5-7 minutes, until fragrant and lightly browned. Immediately return them to the mixing bowl to cool. Alternatively, toast the nuts on the stovetop in a large skillet over medium heat for about 3-5 minutes, until lightly toasted and fragrant.

Repeat this step with the seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, coriander, cumin and fennel).

Combine the toasted nuts and seeds in a large mixing bowl with turmeric, sweet paprika, cinnamon, red pepper flakes, salt, and black pepper. Stir well. Working in two batches, pulse the dukkah in a food processor until coarsely ground.

Spicy Butternut Squash Dip
Makes about 4 cups
1 butternut squash, roughly 3 pounds
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon sambal oolek, or fresh chile paste
1 teaspoon honey, divided
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
dukkah, for serving

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Stick the whole squash in the oven on a baking sheet for 15-20 minutes to soften it a bit in order to ease cutting (optional, but it does make a world of a difference). Carefully cut the squash in half lengthwise, then use a spatula to scoop out the seeds. Discard the seeds, brush the squash with olive oil and bake cut side up until tender and easily pierced through with a fork, about 45-60 minutes depending on the size of the squash.  Remove from oven and let cool. 

Scoop out the cooked squash into a small bowl and discard the skin.

In a food processor combine cilantro leaves, salt and garlic. Pulse until finely chopped. Add in cooked butternut squash, sambal oelek, honey and yogurt. Process until smooth. Return to a serving dish; serve immediately with your favorite crudités or refrigerate until ready to serve. Generously coat with dukkah when serving. 

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