Za’atar Chickpeas and Butternut Squash with Halloom (Halloumi)

 

Have you seen all the different types of winter squash in your marketplace? From acorn and butternut to pumpkin and spaghetti squash, there’s one for every day of the week and almost a second time around (about a dozen in total). They’re all packed with an assortment of nutrients, some of which vary according to the particular squash. While they’re well known for their beta carotene, their impressive potassium counts – around 450 – 500 milligrams for a mere half cup  – are stellar. That’s even more than a medium banana with its 422 milligrams.  Throw in their B vitamins, vitamin C, magnesium and fibre and they’re definitely a vegetable to include regularly on your menu at this time of year. Add in the chickpeas and you’ve got your serving of pulses. Pomegranates are no nutrition slouches either.

Here’s a recipe adapted from Presidents Choice and a super addition to your Meatless Monday repertoire. Feel free to use your own local and pantry ingredients such as za’atar. I do have to say, though, that it’s great to see the variety of ingredients such as haloumi cheese and za’atar moving from specialty stores to supermarkets.

Photo courtesy Presidents Choice

Za’atar Chickpeas and Butternut Squash with Halloom

The secret to making anything-but-boring meatless mains: Treat your vegetables like meat. Here, butternut squash is steamed in the microwave to soften, then cut into chunks and seared in a hot pan to develop a caramelized, almost steak-like crust. Top with salty halloom (a.k.a. haloumi) cheese and juicy pomegranate seeds and  you’ve got dinner.

Serves: 4

1 small butternut squash (about 1 kg), peeled, trimmed, halved lengthwise and seeded (see Chef’s Tip, below)
3 cups (750 mL) frozen PC® Blue Menu Chickpeas (or canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed)
Half pkg (250 g pkg) PC® Halloom Semi-Soft Unripened Cheese, sliced into 1/4-inch (5 mm) thick pieces
2 tbsp (25 mL) extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp (15 mL) PC® Black Label za’atar spice blend
1/4 tsp (1 mL) each salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup (50 mL) pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup (50 mL) torn fresh mint

Sauce:
1/2 cup (125 mL) plain 1% M.F. Yogurt
2 tbsp (25 mL) chopped fresh mint
4 tsp (20 mL) tahini
1 tbsp (15 mL) fresh lemon juice

1. Place squash halves, cut sides down, in 8-inch (2 L) square glass baking dish; add enough water to come 1/4 inch (5 mm) up side. Cover with plastic wrap. Microwave until fork-tender but not falling apart, 9 to 10 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes. Transfer to cutting board; cut into large chunks (about 3-inch/8 cm long x 2-inch/5 cm wide x 1-inch/2.5 cm thick). Set aside.

2. Meanwhile, bring large saucepan of water to a boil. Add frozen chickpeas; bring to a simmer. Cook until tender, 8 to 9 minutes. Drain; pat dry. Set aside.

3. Prepare sauce: Stir together yogurt, mint, tahini and lemon juice in small bowl. Set aside.

4. Place halloom in cold large nonstick skillet; heat on medium. Cook, turning once, until golden, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer to cutting board; cut into quarters. Set aside.

5. Heat 1 tbsp oil in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add chickpeas; cook, stirring often, until crispy and golden, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium; add onion. Cook, stirring often, until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic, za’atar and 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper; cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Scrape into large bowl. Set aside.

6. Heat remaining 1 tbsp oil in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add squash and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper; cook, turning occasionally, until golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes.

Add chickpea mixture; stir gently to combine and heat through. Transfer to large serving platter. Top with halloom; drizzle with sauce. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and mint.

Chef’s Tip: Nervous about peeling and halving a whole squash? Try this trick: Trim the ends of the whole, unpeeled squash and cut several slits all over the skin. Place in an 8-inch (2 L) square glass baking dish and microwave, flipping once, until the skin softens, 4 to 5 minutes. Let cool enough to handle, then arrange upright on a cutting board, holding with a kitchen towel. Working from top to bottom, slice off skin with a sharp knife. Halve squash lengthwise; scoop out and discard the seeds. Continue with the recipe as directed.

Nutrition information per serving:
• Calories: 480
• Protein: 21 grams
• Fat: 21 grams
• Saturated fat: 7 grams
• Carbohydrate: 60 grams
• Dietary fibre: 12 grams
• Sodium: 566 milligrams

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Categories: Recipes, Whole Foods

Author:Rosie Schwartz

Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto-based consulting dietitian and writer.

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One Comment on “Za’atar Chickpeas and Butternut Squash with Halloom (Halloumi)”

  1. October 17, 2017 at 8:13 am #

    Oh wow! This dish looks so colourful and delicious 🙂

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