This recipe comes from Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty. It is surprising and refreshing, and I find it irresistible. A few notes: The original recipe calls for whole cardamom pods and allspice. I was feeling lazy and liked the flavor of garam masala when I tried it once, so that's what I use. If you want to use cardamom pods, place 2 tablespoons pods in a mortar and work with a pestle to get the seeds out of the pods. Discard the pods and work the seeds to a rough powder. Transfer to a small bowl and add 1 teaspoon of allspice and use this in place of the garam masala. Or use any other combination of these sweet, wintry spices: cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, etc. Also, this recipe will leave you with enough sauce to make this dish at least one more time. I don't suggest trying to halve it -- having the sauce on hand will mean less prep next time around. —Alexandra Stafford
4 to 6 as a first course
limes + 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, divided
Maldon sea salt
olive oil, divided
medium butternut squash, about 2 pounds
garam masala or cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, etc. -- see notes above regarding spices
2 1/2 tablespoons
green chile, such as a jalapeño, thinly sliced (I give the slices a rough chop, too)
Preheat the oven to 400º F. Trim off the 2 limes' tops and bases using a small, sharp knife. Stand each lime on a chopping board and cut down the sides of the fruit, following its natural curves, to remove the skin and white pith. Quarter the limes from top to bottom, and cut each quarter into thin slices, about 1/8-inch thick. Place them in a small bowl, sprinkle with a little salt, drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, stir, and set aside.
Next, cut the butternut in half lengthways, scoop out the seeds and discard them (or wash, dry, and roast at 325º F with olive oil and spices for 30 to 45 minutes). If you think the peel is going to bother you once the squash has been roasted, remove it now. Otherwise leave it on -- I have left it on every time I have made it, and I don't mind it at all. Cut each half, top to bottom, into 3/8-inch-thick slices. Lay the slices on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Place the garam masala and the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil in a small bowl, stir well and brush this mixture over the butternut slices. Sprinkle over a little salt and place in the oven for 15 minutes or until tender when tested with the point of a knife. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, whisk together the yogurt, tahini, lime juice, 2 tablespoons water, and a pinch of salt. The sauce should be thick but runny enough to pour; add more water if necessary. I always have to add at least 2 tablespoons more of water and sometimes even more.
To serve, arrange the cooled butternut slices on a serving platter and drizzle with the yogurt sauce. Spoon over the lime slices and their juices and scatter the chile slices over the top. Garnish with the cilantro and serve, passing more sauce (and limes, cilantro, and chiles if you have extra) on the side.