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Warm Butternut Salad with Chickpeas and Tahini Dressing

[Have you entered the Cookbook giveaway yet?  Choose any cookbook you like and you could win it as my Christmas present to you this year! Click here to enter–only one day left!]

I meant to post about this recipe yesterday, but somehow, I’m, er, running a tad behind schedule.  How did I get so woefully tardy on my holiday preparations this year?  Usually, I’m that student you always hated, the one who handed her essay in two days early.  Or that friend who’s already seated, calmly sipping tea and reading The History of Love, when you arrive at the restaurant for lunch at the designated time.  (Sorry, really.  Seems I couldn’t help it. . .just anal that way).

But not this year; no sirree.  I suppose I can attribute the shift in efficiency to a strange confluence of medical and dental appointments, late-in-the-term exams and massive marking duties, some broken plumbing and emergency repairs plus various and sundry other distractions scattered throughout the month.  I could blame the influence of the HH (always a great fallback position) and his über laid-back approach to Christmas shopping  the holidays  shovelling snow  everything, leaving chores or errands until the last minute, which seems to work just fine for him but is in fact disastrous for me.  Or I could blame this infernal candida (even better fallback position), which has been acting up as if sparked by the holiday spirit itself.

Years ago, I vowed I would never leave holiday shopping to the last minute.  This pledge came after one particular Christmas in Montreal during my graduate school years.  I’d flown “home” from Toronto to be with my family, but as a don in residence, I wasn’t allowed to leave the campus until December 23rd.  The CFO suggested we wait until I arrived so we could shop together–on December 24th.  “We’ll just start really early, before the crowds develop,” was her reasoning.  It must have been the jet-lag, but it seemed logical to me, and I agreed.*

Entering the first shopping mall, I was overcome with a mounting sense of dread as we shuffled along amid the throngs, shoulder to shoulder with a mass of strangers moving in unison from displays of scarves and mitts to shelves of sweaters and lingerie to stacks of boots and books to walls lined with dresses and coats to counters replete with mixers, radios, food processors, mixing bowls, wine glasses, can openers, oven mitts. . . . within minutes, I was a little light-headed and approaching dizzy.

After about half an hour of such torture, the CFO and I looked around at the mob of seemingly lifeless bodies perambulating like automatons, no expression (or worse, grim determination) on their faces, moving as if compelled by some unseen, insidious force. . . wait a minute–did that guy have both his arms outstretched before him, palms toward the ground?  Was that a little drop of blood I saw in the corner of that grandma’s leering mouth? Was that woman at the Henckels counter lifting that blade a little too high over the saleswoman’s head?  Suddenly, we both decided we had to get out of there.  Now.

With only a few meagre bags at our feet, sipping cappuccino (as I still did in those days) at a nearby café, we felt enormous relief at having escaped relatively unscathed from what seemed like the scene of the latest horror movie: Christmas Night of the Living Dead, perhaps, or Invasion of the Booty Snatchers, or The Lost Buys. Or, even more to the point, simply The Shopping Mall  (Mmwhahahahaaaaaa!).

Nope, never again.

Okay, so maybe December 22nd is, in reality, not much better than December 24th, but at least I got the job done yesterday (with minimal dizziness or bloodshed).  The HH, on the other hand, still hasn’t even started his Christmas shopping.  Mwhahhaahahaaaa!

This salad will provide a refuge from the holiday insanity (or, perhaps, some rejuvenation after the Big Day).  I came across the recipe on Shannon’s blog while catching up on blog reading (another area I’m woefully behind).  The original hails from Molly, and, like all of her recipes, it’s a winner. It’s quick (start to finish in less than 30 minutes), satisfying and nutritious all at once.  The combination of butternut squash (for just a hint of sweetness) and chickpeas (for protein) with a smattering of red onion (for bite) and aromatic cilantro (for–well, for deliciousness) is addicting.

I had it for lunch yesterday, then again today.  The creamy cloak of tahini drizzled over the warmed squash base makes for a delightful contrast in flavors and temperatures, reminiscent of the all-in-one dinner bowls I wrote about a while back.  In fact, I think this would be more than sufficient for dinner if served with a healthy grain or hunk of hearty bread.

*Of course it wasn’t jet-lag; there’s no time difference between Toronto and Montreal.  It was just wishful thinking.

Last Year at this Time: Gastronomic Gifts VII:  Chocolate Macaroons in a Flash

Two Years Ago: Holiday Cranberry Chippers (cookies)

© 2009 Diet, Dessert and Dogs


33 comments to Warm Butternut Salad with Chickpeas and Tahini Dressing

  • Love your description of the last minute shoppers. Madness! Mm butternut squash 🙂


  • J.

    I saw a version of this recipe on another site last year and made it quite often last winter. I’d forgotten about it this year, so I’m so glad you reminded me.

    I used to have a policy that I finished all my Christmas shopping before DEcember 1st and that served me well. I still try, but I’ve found the past few years a bit too chaotic. But I’m finished now and, like your situation, my partner hasn’t even started his.


  • I think I say “never again” just about every year… but there’s always something! This year, between the unexpected home improvement project that couldn’t happen at a practical time (of course not!) and the gentleman friend who couldn’t find mental space to think about Christmas before he had handed his manuscript to his publisher (which happened last Friday – yay!), everything happened way too close to the date to my liking – and here I am, once again, saying “never again”! Hopefully, I’ll manage to do better next year, for once!
    At least, I won’t have to waste precious time trying to find the perfect recipe for a dish to take to dinner at my brother’s place on the 26th – this is the one! Thank you, Ricki, for sharing it; your timing is perfect!


  • This dish is extremely appealing to me right now as I anticipate a long day of traveling tomorrow. I’m thinking, “we should just stay home and make this. Ah.”


  • I love butternut squash and tahini but I’ve never thought to put them together. It looks delicious 🙂


  • One-bowl dinners are generally my M.O. And this post had me laughing out loud at the thought of zombie holiday shoppers. Chickpeas and squash are a favorite combination of mine, so this salad is right up my alley – thanks for another inspirational post! It looks so good, so good, yum yum yum.


  • I’m a little claustrophobic, so I also do my best to enjoy last minute shopping. Unfortunately, things don’t always work out in my favor, and I usually end up doing something last minute. This salad, however, sounds like it can quell my unease. 😉 I love warm salads!


  • Jes

    Congrats on getting the shopping done so early! Last minute gift-getting is always such a headache, I’m glad the stove and oven can get so much done 🙂 The warm salad looks amazing–I might just have to make this for lunch tomorrow!


  • Looks delicious! I love butternut squash and tahini, and I’ve been using cilantro alot lately…


  • Just dropped by quickly to say, have a great Christmas. Have to get to bed and tomorrow is going to be hectic. Have a great time my friend.


  • You are a Goddess, Ricki! This sounds like it was custom made for me, it has so many things I adore. Mmm, I can taste it now…


  • A perfect meal! Such fabulous flavours Ricki!


  • maie

    great recipe to take to a vegan potluck – Happy Holidays Ricki!


  • Oh this looks absolutely scrumptious, such a perfect combination of flavors. I adore tahini but I don’t think I would have thought to use it this way.

    The photos are gorgeous, by the way, you make it look so effortless to capture a beautiful shot. Stunning!


  • This recipe sounds wonderful. Delicious flavors and bright color give it an edge for the holidays, though it would great anytime. And I love your story. I can so relate, though it has been a very long time since that organized person in me prevailed.

    Merry Christmas!


  • Mom

    We are out-of-town and I’m dreaming of anything home-cooked. You describe the mall-panic thing perfectly except that mine starts the day after Thanksgiving – that online shopping option is a lifesaver. Tomorrow is a day filled with children and grandchildren and then back home again to my own kitchen. Happy Holidays to you and your loved ones and keep those recipes coming!


  • i’m sorry to hear that your candida is acting up, Ricki. that’s no fun. i’m sending many happyfaced & healthy thoughts your way.

    where i work is just a minute or two from a mall, and getting home in the evenings for the past week or so has been, well, downright hellish. i can’t imagine christmas shopping on christmas eve; your story made me shudder a bit. ah ha ha! hooray for getting your shopping done on the 22nd. w00t!

    oh my goodness, boys leave everything to the last minute. dan’s the same way, and while it seems to work for him (he told me the other day, “i don’t even know what we’ve got planned for christmas this year, so just tell me where to go and i’ll be there.”), it drives me bonkers, too.

    your warm butternut salad looks most excellent, Ricki – and perfect for the holidays, indeed. super yay for more cilantro goodness, a delicious tahini dressing, red onions, and the loves-of-my-life – chickpeas!

    happy holidays to you, my friend. may they be filled with lots of love, hugs, laughter, family, and friends!


  • “Perambulating like automatons” – you nailed it! That’s exactly what they look like! Oh man, your description of a crowded mall on Christmas Eve just gave me a panic attack! We do most of our Christmas shopping online and way in advance. Which of course has its downfalls because we open most of our gifts way before Christmas!

    I’m off to check out your cookbook giveaway!


  • Ohhhh, such a beautiful dish! Anything with the words “tahini dressing” immediately have me sitting on the edge of my chair with delight and anticipation… As with all of your recipes, I just can’t wait to fix this one! 🙂

    Wishing you a very beautiful, joyous, delicious, Chanukkah and Christmas! 🙂


  • Mmm, that looks GREAT! Warm squash salads are so comforting – and this one looks super delish! 🙂


  • Stef,
    I know! People do go a little crazy. Squash helps. 😉

    Glad to be the reminder of this recipe! I guess many guys share that in common–though I just don’t get it! 😉

    Funny how we tend to repeat the pattern, isn’t it? But congrats to your friend re: the manuscript–yay! And glad you like the recipe. 🙂

    Hope the travelling was easier than expected! The salad is (almost) worth it.

    Thanks! Hope you like it if you do give it a try.

    I hadn’t thought to combine these ingredients together before, either, but they do seem to belong together!

    I don’t eat too many warm salads, but I think I’ll have to change that after trying this one! And I guess we all end up doing SOMETHING last minute! 😉

    Thanks (though it didn’t feel as if it were done early!). The salad was a nice respite, though.

    Lisa S,
    Sounds like this recipe would be perfect for you!

    Thanks so much–and same to you! Hope it’s great 🙂

    It did turn out to be a lovely combo. But Molly is the goddess! 😉

    Thanks so much! Let me know what you think if you give it a try. 🙂

    I bet it would work really well on a buffet table! Hope your holidays were happy, too 🙂

    Voracious Vegan,
    Thanks so much! And thanks for being so kind about the photos–amazing what a camera can do even without any knowledge of photography!

    Thanks! I’m still waiting for my “organized self” to return–maybe 2010 will be the year 😉

    Thanks so much! And hope your own holidays were wonderful! 🙂

    Thanks for the healthy thoughts (I feel better already) 😉 I loved Dan’s response to the holidays–yes, I think boys will be boys, won’t they? I hope your own Christmas was wonderful nonetheless and that you had a great time!

    So sorry to spark the panic response–really, that’s how I felt amid all those hoards of shoppers! Much better to start very early and have it all done before December. 😉

    Astra Libris,
    Thanks so much–and hope your own holiday was everything you wanted it to be!

    Thanks so much! It really is a comforting kind of dish (and yummy, too) 😉


  • mmm pumpkin (as I call it), chickpeas and tahini is one of my favourite combinations – excellent in salad and even better warm – hope the HH came up trumps with the Christmas shopping and that your christmas was wonderful


  • i, too, used to be so on-time and ahead of the game… but somewhere in grad school i made the switch and now am woefully last-minute, or a few minutes late. Luckily i don’t have that much gift shopping to do, and that got done ahead of time!

    glad you enjoyed this as much as i did, i’m already looking forward to making it again when i get back to my apt 🙂


  • Such beautiful color in that dish!


  • I’m making this sometime today. yum!@


  • Thanks for reminding me about this dish! I’ve wanted to make it for a while. As you said, it’s the perfect all in one dinner bowl (with a grain)! Yum.


  • a pretty novel combination, I’m going to have to give that a try


  • Chickpeas + tahini; you can’t go wrong. This looks delicious.


  • […] of this cookbook, don’t despair- you just need to find yourself a recipe for tahini dressing- this one is also spectacular.  I added parsley to my tahini dressing, which is what turned it a lovely […]

  • That sounds great – must try it. But I have to admit to being a little confused by this line:

    “In a large bowl, combine the squash cubes, minced garlic, allspice, degrees Fahrenheit.”

    I have combined many things in bowls in my time, but never degrees Fahrenheit. I’m not even sure what they’d look like. Maybe it’s because I’m Canadian?

    (Seriously, I think you have an editing glitch there or something. Especially since the rest of it gets combined again in the next line.)


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