With the holiday season in full swing, we need some party food recipes to help us celebrate. I am all about chips and dip as I confessed here in my first “get to know me” post. But, I also enjoy making healthy choices when I can. Seeing as how hummus is inherently vegetarian, dairy-free and gluten-free, it’s a great compromise for the hors d’oeuvres table. You satisfy all those competing food restrictions with one simple dish! How’s that for convincing!?
Sure, there are lots of packaged options at the grocery store these days, but making hummus is fun to do and it is truly simple. I always find it enlightening to make foods I enjoy from scratch. Most often, fresh also just tastes waaaaay better. Once I try a traditional recipe a few times, there inevitably comes a time to add my own twist. In this case, I up the seasonality and add some holiday flare with sweet and earthy roasted butternut squash. With a sprinkle of rosemary salt and pomegranate seeds, we’ve got a winning dish. Doesn’t it look lovely? And festive? Who wouldn’t be excited to dip into this party dish?!
First up, we roast the butternut squash. Sometimes, I admit, I loath roasting butternut squash. It’s big, it’s bulky, and it seems to practically fight back. Even more annoying, it tends to take awhile. HOWEVER, butternut squash is, in my opinion, one of the most quintessential cold-weather foods, so I just can’t NOT cook it.
My strategy is to tackle more than one squash at a time, just like I suggested in this recipe for butternut squash soup that I shared a few weeks ago. After all, if I’m going to bother I may as well get a lot of return for my effort. Use one for the hummus, then use the other one to make my soup! Or, puree the second squash and freeze it so the next time you want to make this hummus dish, or the soup, you already have puree ready to go. Genius, eh!? So, roast once but get twice the reward!
Just like the soup recipe, I cut the neck off the bulb end, then cut both halves in half lengthwise, yielding four pieces per squash. I flip them upside down and roast at 425° until forkable (ie. very tender). I don’t bother scooping the seeds first, because they will separate so much more easily after roasting.
The pomegranates add so much holiday pizazz I almost can’t stand it! Like little twinkling lights or sparkling gems. Can you believe these are actually food? It’s a holiday miracle! I usually prefer to buy my seeds already picked, which you can find in many grocery stores around this time, but they tend to be more expensive that way. If you are willing to put in the effort and deal with the messiness that ensues from smacking or picking or digging out your own pom seeds, you can save a few bucks.
As for the standard hummus ingredients – chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice and tahini – my approach has evolved from trying various other recipes over the years. I don’t remember where I learned to boil the chickpeas, and truthfully, I often skip this step when making regular hummus. However, the chickpeas do tenderize and boiling helps shed more of the skins. Since we are waiting for the squash to roast anyway, I figure why not make that time useful.
My favorite technique is definitely the blending of the tahini for a few minutes while adding ice water to the running food processor. This step aerates the hummus and gives it that really smooth and light texture to the final dish, a common characteristic in my most favorite restaurant hummus’s.
So that’s really all there is to it. Frankly, if you want to forget all the prettiness of the pomegranate seeds and simply make this for your household to nosh on throughout the week it’s totally worth it. Serve it as a snack, a sandwich spread or a side dish for Sunday supper. Whatever the purpose, it’s a great recipe to have in your repertoire. Enjoy!
Crowd-pleasing hummus gets glammed up for the holidays with roasted butternut squash, pomegranate seeds and fresh rosemary.
1 whole butternut squash
1 15-oz can of chickpeas, strained and rinsed
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup tahini
3–4 tablespoons ice cold water
1 small garlic clove, peeled
2–4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
1–2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
Drizzle of good flavored extra virgin olive oil
Crackers, pita or flatbread
Bell pepper or celery sticks (gluten-free and dairy free)
Root vegetable chips (gluten-free and dairy free)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Cut both ends off the butternut squash then cut in half cross-wise through the middle. Stand each half upright on the flat end and cut down through the middle. Place cut side down on a sheet pan. Place in preheated oven and roast until very tender, should easily pierce with a fork. About 40 minutes to 1 hour.
While squash cooks, strain chickpeas through colander and give a quick rinse. Place in medium sauce pan and cover with cold water by about 1 inch. Add baking soda. Set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat to simmer. Simmer until chickpeas easily fall apart when pressed with the back of a spoon, about 40-45 minutes. Strain once tender.
Place peeled garlic in the food processor with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Process to chop the garlic, then stop and scrape off the sides. Process again, stop and scrape. NOTE: If you like garlicky hummus, feel free to add another clove or two.
Add tahini to the garlic and lemon juice. With motor running, add about 3 tablespoons of ice-cold water and continue to process until mixture looks very pale and very smooth, about 3-5 minutes.
Once squash is out of the oven, flip pieces over and let cool until it is easier to handle.
Scoop the seeds out of the butternut squash and discard or save for a separate recipe. Scoop flesh of butternut squash out of the skins and add to the tahini mixture in the food processor. You need about 2-3 cups. If you have much more than this, freeze the excess for later use.
Add the strained chickpeas. Puree until mixture is very smooth. Taste and add more lemon juice if desired. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Butternut squash hummus can be wrapped and refrigerated for up to six days. When ready to serve, scoop onto a serving dish. Drizzle with good tasting olive oil, sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and finely chopped rosemary. Serve with desired dippers and enjoy!