Eat Like Royalty

Feb 14, 2024

Do you have family members that are fans of hummus, the thick sauce prepared from mashed chickpeas and tahini (sesame seed paste) seasoned with lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil? In the Middle Eastern part of the world, hummus is a staple food, often eaten every day, not just as a dip, but also as the main part of the meal. Although a relative newcomer to the cuisine of the United States, hummus and chickpeas have been enjoyed by humans for thousands of years.

A staple of the ancient Roman’s diet, chickpeas are the most versatile of all the legumes. Round, beige, with a beaklike sprout, chickpeas have a nutty taste and firm texture. Nutritiously speaking, they are rich in protein, calcium, iron and the B vitamins.

India and Turkey are among the largest producers of chickpeas, which as a cool-season crop require daytime temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees, and about 65 degrees at night. Here in the Americas, Idaho, Washington, Oregon and Canada are the primary cultivators. Research in Maine has identified chickpeas, or garbanzo beans, as a potential rotation crop, as they are provide excellent nitrogen fixation.

The recipe for Chickpea and Warm Butternut Squash Salad, an adaptation from the Smitten Kitchen, is delightfully addictive. The flavors are similar to that of a deconstructed hummus: rich in beans with lemon overtones, sweet squash, and smooth, fruity olive oil with a punch of garlic.

The most important detail when preparing this salad is the cutting and cooking of the squash. Be sure to keep your pieces of squash uniform, as texture is important. Smaller pieces become mush, while the larger pieces are just not quite cooked enough. Vary the amount of garlic, depending upon the taste preferences of your family. We enjoy an extra clove of garlic in the dressing.

Easy to prepare, this salad keeps well in the refrigerator, and is delicious at any temperature. Serve over greens for a festive dinner salad, pack in the lunch box for a nutritious meal, or plate with a sandwich for a sumptuous spread.

In a major study of food intake patterns from around the world there was one – and only one- food shown to make people live longer…LEGUMES! This is my year to treat my family and myself as royalty, and enjoy the legumes.

Chickpea and Warm Butternut Squash Salad

Cheryl Wixson
Adapted from the Smitten Kitchen.
Servings 6

Ingredients
  

  • 1 medium butternut squash about 2 ½ pounds (5 cups cubes)
  • 1 garlic clove finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Maine sea salt
  • 1 15 ounce can chickpeas drained and rinsed (1 ¾ cups)
  • ¼ cup red onion finely chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley optional
  • 3- tablespoons tahini
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic or more, to taste finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons water

Instructions
 

  • Assemble ingredients and tools. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  • Chop the garlic and set aside. Chop the red onion and set aside. Drain and rinse the beans and set aside.
  • Peel the squash and remove the seeds, add the skin and seeds to the compost. Cut the squash into 1 - inch cubes.
  • Add the squash to a large bowl. Add the 1 chopped garlic clove, olive oil and some salt. Toss the squash pieces until evenly coated.
  • Roast the squash on a sheet pan or heavy pan until just fork soft, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  • To prepare the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together 1 chopped garlic clove and lemon juice. Add the tahini and whisk to blend. Add the water and olive oil. Taste and correct the seasonings. If needed, add a bit more water to thin out the dressing.

To assemble the salad:

  • Add the squash to a large bowl. Add the chickpeas and chopped onion.
  • Stir in about ½ of the dressing and mix well.
  • Serve the salad warm or at room temperature.

Cheryl's Notes

Nutritional analysis per serving: 217 calories, 6 grams protein, 30 grams carbohydrates, 10 grams fat, 606 mg. sodium, 9 grams fiber.

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