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Roasted butternut squash with tahini and pine nuts adds balance and beauty to the holiday table

(Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post/Food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post)
Roasted Butternut Squash and Red Onion With Tahini and Za’atar
Active time:30 mins
Total time:50 mins
Servings:2 to 4
Active time:30 mins
Total time:50 mins
Servings:2 to 4

This flavorful, bright side is a must-have at my Thanksgiving table, and it suits vegetarians, vegans and those who keep gluten-free. It can counterbalance traditional, heavier holiday dishes.

Chunks of yielding, slightly sweet squash and wedges of caramelized onions are brightened by a lemony, garlicky tahini sauce and crunchy toasted pine nuts, and finished with a shower of fresh parsley and za’atar. You’ll be hard-pressed deciding if this side looks better than it tastes — or vice versa.

Thanksgiving side dishes for big or small groups: Mac and cheese, roasted squash and corn pudding

And although the spirit of Thanksgiving is about sharing, this dish may make you want to keep it all to yourself.

Where to buy: Tahini and za’atar can be found at Middle Eastern groceries, well-stocked supermarkets and online.

Take your butternut squash appreciation above and beyond roasting with these 7 recipes

Scale and get a printer-friendly version of the recipe here.


  • 1 medium butternut squash (1 pound 8 ounces) peeled and cut into 1-by-2 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1 large red onion (8 ounces), cut into eighths
  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons tahini, or more as needed
  • 2 tablespoons water, or more as needed
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 small clove garlic, grated
  • 3 tablespoons raw pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon za’atar
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Flaky sea salt, for sprinkling

Step 1

Position a baking rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 475 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine the squash and onion and 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, 1 teaspoon of the salt, a few twists of the pepper grinder, and toss to combine. Spread the vegetables on a large, rimmed baking sheet, leaving space among the pieces, and roast for 25 to 35 minutes, or until the vegetables have taken on some color and are cooked through with a little char. (Keep an eye on the onion: If it starts to burn before the squash is cooked, you may need to remove it and finish roasting the squash.) Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Step 2

While the vegetables are roasting, in a small bowl, whisk together the tahini, water, lemon juice, garlic and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt until the sauce is the consistency of honey. You might need to add more water or tahini, depending on the consistency.

Step 3

In a small skillet over medium-low heat, heat the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil until shimmering. Add the pine nuts and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and cook, stirring often until the nuts are golden brown, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer to a small bowl.

Step 4

To serve, spread the vegetables out on a serving platter and drizzle with the tahini sauce. Sprinkle the pine nuts and their oil on top, and garnish with the za’atar and parsley. Sprinkle with a little flaky sea salt and serve.

Nutrition Information

(Based on 4 servings)

Calories: 320; Total Fat: 22 g; Saturated Fat: 3 g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 588 mg; Carbohydrates: 29 g; Dietary Fiber: 6 g; Sugar: 7 g; Protein: 5 g.

Adapted from “Jerusalem: A Cookbook” by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi (Ten Speed Press, 2012).

Tested by Olga Massov; email questions to

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