Roasted squash houmous, a light lunch for your belly.

Enjoy this roasted squash, just as there is no universal curry powder, nor is there a universal ras el hanout in Arabic, which means ‘head of the shop’ it is traditionally a blend of the best spices a merchant has to offer. Combined with chickpeas, roasted squash and tahini, served with pitta, it makes a lovely dip to accompany drinks, or a salad. This is a light lunch you will enjoy.

Ingredients For Roasted Squash Houmous.

1 butternut squash, about 850g, peeled, deseeded and cubed

2 garlic cloves, bashed

3cm piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped

Olive oil

1 tbsp tahini

1 x 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Warmed or griddled pitta bread or flatbread, to serve.

For the ras el hanout spice blend.

1 cinnamon stick

1 tsp cloves

1 tbsp coriander seeds

1/2 tbsp fenugreek seeds

1/2 tbsp fennel seeds

1 tbsp mustard seeds

1/2 tbsp cumin seeds

1 tsp paprika

Preparations.

  1. First, make the spice blend. Break the cinnamon stick into pieces. Place in a dry pan with cloves and seeds and toast over medium heat for about 1 minute, until aromatic and the seeds are popping (shake the spices in the pan as you heat them to prevent them from burning).

2. Once toasted, remove from the heat, and add the paprika. Place in a spice grinder, blender or mortar and grind until the mixture is a powder- sift it if necessary. This spice blend will last 3 months if stored in an airtight container.

3. Preheat the oven to 180 C.

4. Make the houmous. In a large mixing bowl, mix the cubed squash, garlic cloves and ginger with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the spice mix. Season with salt and pepper and scatter in a single layer in a roasting/baking tray. Place in the preheated oven and cook for 30 minutes until tender all the way through.

5. Once the squash is soft, add the contents of the tray to a blender, discarding the garlic skins. Add the tahini, chickpeas and a squeeze of lemon juice along with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary- you might need some extra lemon juice at the end.

6. Transfer the houmous to a bowl and sprinkle with a little of the spice mix. Drizzle with olive oil and serve with warmed or griddle pitta bread on the side.

Enjoy your houmous.