BUTTERNUT SQUASH HUMMUS with CHARRED BROCCOLI & CASHEWS
The Boston food scene continues to explode. The real estate market is booming and droves of diners are drawn to the killer cooking of the area's innovative chefs. Julia Child would be proud. Just down the street from her quaint Victorian home near Harvard Square, the chefs at Alden & Harlow seem to be heeding her advice to "try new recipes", "be fearless," "and above all have fun”! Snagging a table at this hot spot can be tough....unless of course hungry enough to eat right at 5 p.m. when it opens and on a weeknight. The food is bold and beautiful. The flavors intense and unexpected. This charred broccoli dish delivers a combination of textures and tastes: slightly bitter, creamy and sweet, crunchy and salty. Yum! To boot, it is a filling, healthy protein-packed plate that can be made in advance and served room temperature. If visiting Beantown in the near future isn't in the cards, visit this wicked awesome town via the food prepared by some of its world class chefs.
Nota bene: Parmesano Reggiano is a great substitute for the Bianco Sarda (sweet, grassy, tangy, & less salty than its Parmesan cousin). Cut large broccoli florets in half. May be made in advance and served room temperature--leave hummus separate from the broccoli until serving. Finish with the shaved cheese just before serving. Ready made hummus makes this even easier, and if in a pinch, use it. The absolute best basic hummus (well worth the effort) below is from Yotam Ottolenghi's Jerusalem cookbook (a good investment).
1 1/4 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in cold water
1 teaspoon baking soda
6 1/2 cups cold water
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons light tahini paste
4 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
4 cloves garlic, crushed
6 1/2 tablespoons ice cold water
2 1/4 cups butternut squash, 1/4" dice
1 head of broccoli, florets removed from stalk
1/3 cup cashews, toasted
Bianco Sardo cheese (or Parmesano Reggiano)
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Drain the chickpeas and put them in a medium pot over high heat. Add the baking soda and cook while stirring constantly for 3 minutes.
3. Add the water and bring to a bowl. Cook and skim off any foam and skins that float to the top.
4. Depending on the age of the dried chickpeas, they will need to cook between 20 and 40 minutes (the baking soda helps to speed up cooking and also makes a creamier texture) until they are super tender but not yet mushy.
5. Meanwhile, toss the butternut squash on a half sheet baking pan with a bit of olive oil. Generously salt and grind fresh black pepper over the squash. Roast for 20 minutes, or until soft and the edges begin to caramelize. Set aside.
6. Toss the broccoli florets on a half sheet baking pan with a bit of olive oil. Liberally salt and grind fresh ground black pepper over the broccoli. Roast for 20 minutes, or until the edges and bottom get charred and a bit blackened. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
7. Drain the chickpeas and put them in a food process. Whir until the chickpeas make a stiff paste. With the machine running, add the tahini, lemon juice, garlic and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt.
8. Slowly drizzle the ice water and allow it to mix for about 5 minutes until the hummus is smooth and makes a creamy paste.
9. Add the roasted butternut squash to the hummus and whir until completely incorporated and smooth. Test for seasoning (a bit more salt may be necessary, but don't overdo it).
10. Let sit for 30 minutes. If not using right away, refrigerate until needed, but remove and allow to come to room temperature at least 30 minutes before serving.
11. Place the butternut squash hummus in a serving dish. Top with charred broccoli, and the cashews.
12. Use a vegetable peeler to slice long thin ribbons of cheese over the top of the dish.