Author Notes: Inspired by a suggestion from my farmer who never uses recipes...looks like cheese from a can, tastes a LOT better and uses the winter squash you probably have around your house, in a cooked or raw form. I find that kabocha, carnival or acorn squashes work well here. If you can, ask your squash monger for a dense, creamy, sweet-fleshed variety (I don't recommend a more watery pumpkin). This is delicious as a sandwich spread or for dipping crackers, veggies, pita bread, anything! —Raquelita
Makes: a bowlful, depends on the amount of squash flesh.
pounds kabocha, acorn, carnival or other winter squash (with skin and seeds; I use one kabocha or two small of the others)
teaspoon miso paste (optional)
tablespoons olive oil
cup sesame tahini
teaspoon smoked paprika, or to taste
splash cider vinegar (optional)
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Rinse and dry your winter squashes to remove any wax coating or dirt. Cut the squash in half, in the stem to tip direction. Scoop out the seeds (easy with a sturdy soup spoon).
- Pour a little olive oil into a dish and add the dab of miso paste and mix together to make a thin paste. If you don't like or don't have miso, you can skip this and use only olive oil.
- Dip your index and third fingers in the oil-miso mixture and rub the inside of the squash to coat very thinly. Turn the squash hollow-side down on sturdy cookie sheets.
- Roast the squash in the heated oven for about 45 minutes. It's done when there is sweet-burnt caramely juice bubbling from the bottom of the squash and the flesh is tender. The skin should give in to finger pressure. Timing this is tougher to anticipate, it depends on the size and density of your squash.
- Cool the squash, either entirely or at least until you can handle it--shoot for lukewarm or room temp so you don't totally melt the tahini, but this is not a fussy recipe. You could pull already-roasted squash out of your fridge and continue from there, as well.
- Use a spoon to scoop out all the softened squash flesh into a mixing bowl (if you have an immersion blender), food processor bowl, or blender. Blenders will give an airier, fluffier consistency but you may need to loosen the mixture with some vinegar. All the ingredients are soft enough that you can smash the squash and beat this by hand with a wooden spoon if you don't have an appliance.
- Process just the squash for a moment, then add the tahini and the rest of the olive oil until you have a smooth, creamy and hummus-y texture. A splash of cider vinegar can go a long way if it's too dense. Finish with the smoked paprika (or take your pick of spice profile) and salt and pepper to taste.
- Spoon into a bowl. If looks are important, you can make it pretty by smoothing with the back of a spoon and then sprinkling with some regular paprika, ground pepper and a few drizzles of olive oil.