In this simple salad the sweet, sumptuous roasted squash is paired with crunchy olive-oil-croutons, and complemented with tangy yogurt-tahini sauce, creating an irresistible combination.
It is inspired from a dish served by Semsa Denizsel, the celebrated chef and former owner of Kantin Lokanta in Istanbul. She has now moved to the Aegean coast, and teaches cooking in her beautiful home, amidst olive trees.
Four 1/2-inch (1.2cm) slices day-old sourdough bread, torn to about 1-inch (2.5cm) pieces–remove only the very hard crusts
2/3 cup olive oil
About 2 1/2 pounds (1 1/4 kilo) butternut squash, kabocha, or any other squash with dense flesh; peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes
2 teaspoons dry Greek oregano or thyme
Salt to taste
A few pinches Maraş pepper or crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
1 1/2 cups (375 g) thick Greek-style yogurt
2/3 -1 cup (160 ml) tahini
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt, to taste
3 tablespoons lemon juice, or to taste
A bunch fresh mint, coarsely chopped or a good pinch dried mint (optional)
Fruity olive oil for drizzling
A handful of toasted pine nuts
Preheat the oven to 400º F (200ºC) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl toss the bread with half of the oil, spread on the baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 10 minutes or more, until golden brown and dry. Transfer to a tray.
In the same large bowl add the squash and toss with the remaining olive oil, adding oregano, salt and pepper to taste.
Spread on the parchment-lined baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes or more, until tender. Let cool a little.
Meanwhile make the sauce: In a bowl, stir the yogurt with the tahini, and add the garlic, salt, and lemon. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Stir in 2 to 3 tablespoons water to thin the sauce just to the point that is only just pourable. Cover and store in the refrigerator.
Spread half the yogurt-tahini sauce on a shallow serving dish. Arrange alternating pieces of squash and toasted bread on the sauce, sprinkle with the fresh and dried mint, if using, drizzle with fruity olive oil and sprinkle with the pine nuts and some finishing salt.
Serve warm or at room temperature, passing the rest of the yogurt sauce on the side.