Quick and simple roasted butternut squash is elevated with lemony za’atar and a creamy lemon tahini sauce. This recipe is vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, whole30, and SO reliably delicious!
- 1 large medium butternut squash
- extra virgin olive oil
- za’atar (more on this below)
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- minced garlic
- lemon juice
- water (to thin out the tahini)
Serve with: parsley, toasted pine nuts, maldon sea salt, and a super high quality finishing extra virgin olive oil (this is something that is nicer than you’d cook with!)
How to make roasted butternut squash with za’atar
Toss cubed butternut squash with olive oil, za’atar, kosher salt, and black pepper. Place on a rimmed baking sheet, then bake at 425F for ~30 minutes, tossing once about halfway through.
Squash is done when it’s browned slightly and tender.
What is za’atar?
Za’atar is an aromatic blend of spices consisting of toasted sesame seeds, lemony sumac, dried oregano, and minty hyssop.
Other uses for za’atar:
- serve with pita bread and olive oil, both sprinkled with za’atar
- mix with whole Greek milk yogurt for a tangy dip
- add to meatballs or kebabs
- sprinkled on chicken before grilling
- add to salad dressing
What is tahini?
So glad you asked! Tahini is essentially ground toasted sesame seeds, turned into a smooth, creamy, nutty paste. It’s savory, aromatic, and can totally be eaten with a spoon (no judgment). Perfect in both sweet and savory preparations.
Not all tahini is made equal. When you cook with so few ingredients, it’s really important to use high quality products. Soom tahini is literally the only tahini I keep in my house. Yes, of course you can pick some up from Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods or even Walmart, but trust me when I say: been there, done that, never doing it again. Soom tahini is the absolute best!
Is tahini vegan?
Yes! It’s also dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free, and whole30 compliant! Most are kosher too! Just make sure you read the ingredient list — you want it to be as ‘clean’ as possible, meaning if it lists any additional oils or additives, don’t buy it. Ground toasted sesame seeds. That’s it.
How to make tahini sauce?
Combine tahini, lemon juice, minced garlic, and a lot of water (more on this below) to create a smooth, creamy sauce. Set aside or refrigerate until needed.
Why tahini seizes when liquid is added
PSA: adding liquid to tahini will thicken it. I know! That’s not what I expected either! Liquid causes the tahini to clump up — when you add liquid to carbohydrates, the carbohydrate is drawn to the water and clumps. The good news is that if you keep adding water, eventually it will thin out again.
For ¼ cup tahini + juice of half a lemon, it took ¾ cup water being whisked into the mixture to thin it out again. Don’t worry, the sauce still has an aromatic, nutty sesame flavor, brightened by the lemon juice.
Not gonna lie, this is the perfect, quick and simple lunch of my dreams. If you’re looking to bulk it up a bit, serve with grilled chicken, lamb kebabs, or even homemade falafel! But I promise one bite and you’ll be hooked.
If you make Roasted Butternut Squash with Za’atar, please let me know by leaving a review below!
Looking for dishes to serve alongside this? Check out the following!
Roasted Butternut Squash with Za'atar and Lemon Tahini Sauce
For roasted butternut squash
- 1 large butternut squash peeled and cut into ¼" cubes
- 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp za'atar spice blend
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
For lemon tahini sauce
- ¼ cup tahini such as Soom
- 1 small garlic clove about ½ tsp, minced
- juice of ½ lemon about 1-2 Tbsp
- ¾ cup water plus more as needed
- 2 Tbsp high quality finishing extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ - ½ tsp maldon sea salt
- parsley for garnish
- ¼ cup pine nuts toasted
To make roasted butternut squash:
- Preheat oven to 425F. In a large bowl, toss butternut squash, olive oil, za'atar, salt, and pepper. Pour onto rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 15 minutes, toss, then cook additional 15 minutes more. Set aside.
To make lemon tahini sauce:
- In a small bowl, combine tahini, garlic, and lemon juice. The tahini will seize up and get clumpy and solid - this is normal! Slowly drizzle in water, a few tablespoons at a time, whisking until smooth, using about ¾ - 1 cup. Eventually, tahini will loosen and sauce will be smooth.
- In a large bowl or serving platter spread lemon tahini sauce. Place roasted butternut squash on top, then drizzle with a couple tablespoons of high quality extra virgin olive oil. Garnish with a sprinkling of maldon sea salt, some fresh parsley leaves, and toasted pine nuts.