Butternut Squash and Pomegranate Salad
Gourds are one of the ceremonial foods blessed at the Rosh Hashanah seder, a 2000-year-old tradition maintained by Sephardi and Mizrahi Jewish communities in India, North Africa, Turkey and the Middle East among others. Any vegetable from the gourd family can be used. My Yemenite mother used to boil chunks of pumpkin in salt water. Moroccans cook pumpkin in sugar and cinnamon. Over the years, I developed this butternut squash dish that incorporates pomegranates and honey. Traditionally, small bowls with the ceremonial foods are placed on the table, family-style, for guests to serve themselves. I find it easier to make individual plates with samples for each guest to at the table just before the guests arrive. They make for a festive and colorful table.
- 1 pound butternut squash (4 cups), peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 pomegranate
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro
- 2 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper
- Salt to taste
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place butternut squash, 1 tablespoon olive oil and kosher salt in a 9x13-inch roasting pan, mix and roast for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally for even roasting. Test with a fork to check that it is done. It should be cooked through, but still firm. While the squash is roasting, seed the pomegranate and chop the cilantro. For dressing, stir together remaining tablespoon olive oil, pomegranate molasses, honey, pepper and salt in a small bowl and blend well to incorporate. Once the squash is cooked and cooled, mix with pomegranate seeds and cilantro. Sprinkle the ground coriander on top. Gradually add dressing to squash mixture, mix, taste and adjust flavors as desired.