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I’ve lived in California almost 14 years now, but there are certain American pastimes I will never fully understand. Camping (gasp!) is one of them. And…I’m a little afraid to say…football is another. That may be not be the most popular thing to confess, but hey, it’s not like I started a food blog to make friends.

Football in this country confounds me. The bizarre name for a game where your feet almost never touch the ball, the aggressive physicality, and the fact that really…for the life of me, I can’t understand why no one seems to move more than ten feet without getting slammed into by another player, and somehow, its called a play, analyzed from a thousand different angles, and followed by a commercial break.

So you can see why, with all of my issues, I have no choice but to host a Superbowl party almost every year. I like all parts of this event except when there’s an actual game happening. The ads can be really great. The halftime show is a total fun spectacle (Beyonce and Bruno Mars killed it last night! I hear Coldplay was there too). Best of all, I get to try out some new recipes on an unsuspecting crowd. And there’s no nachos or seven layer dips in sight.

This platter of roasted deliciousness was my slightly unorthodox opening act for our Superbowl munchies last night. It was probably also the best received, and deservedly so. Why had no one ever told me that butternut squash and tahini are a marriage made in heaven? And sneaky red onion is the true star, in a way that won’t make sense until you actually taste it. I can see myself eating nothing but a bowl of this for dinner on a weeknight, and it’s easy enough that you can, too. The only ingredient that may not be in your spice rack already is za’atar, but once you’ve tasted it, you’ll find ways to use this amazing blend again and again.

Butternut Squash with Red Onion and Tahini

Adapted from who else but Yotam Ottolenghi

1 large butternut squash (about 2lbs), peeled, seeds removed and cut into wedges
2 red onions, cut into wedges
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp tahini paste
Juice of one lime
3 Tbsp water
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 Tbsp za’atar
1 Tbsp chopped cilantro
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees.

Put the squash and onion on a large baking sheet, add 3 tablespoons of the oil, 1 teaspoon salt and some black pepper and toss well. Roast in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until the vegetables have taken on some color and are cooked through. Set aside to cool. 

To make the sauce, place the tahini in a small bowl along with the lemon juice, water, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Whisk until the sauce is the consistency of honey, adding more water or tahini if necessary.

Pour the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil into a small frying pan and place over medium-low heat. Add the pine nuts along with 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook for a few minutes, stirring often, until the nuts are golden brown. Remove from the heat and set aside. 

To serve, spread the vegetables out on a large serving platter and drizzle over the tahini dressing. Sprinkle the pine nuts and their oil on top, followed by the za’atar and chopped cilantro. Dig in.