My husband and I are part of a small and informal supper club/dinner group. We jokingly refer to these gatherings as “The Beet Goes On”, mostly due to the fact that beets always manage to appear on the menu. (Apparently, we’re all big beet fans.)
Truth be told, it doesn’t seem right to call this group a supper club. Really, it’s just five friends who like to cook food and drink wine. It’s as simple as that. We all take turns hosting, cooking, and menu-planning and we always have a great time. We feast, we talk, and we indulge in a few nice bottles of wine. It’s damn near perfect.
A few weeks ago, The Beet Goes On crew gathered at my house. I knew I wanted to make something special for the group, and I had been pouring over recipes, blogs, and cookbooks for weeks. Eventually, I settled on a Middle-Eastern (Israeli/Persian/Moroccan/etc) theme for the dinner. We dined on Shakshuka, Harissa roasted carrots & beets, feta and olives, lemony cous cous salad, flat bread, and delicata squash rings with mast-o-khiar yogurt dip. Let me tell you, it was a feast fit for kings. (Lest you think I’m giving myself all of the credit, my dinner guests made some of the sides. This was a group effort!). However, of all of the dishes we ate that night, the squash and yogurt combo was my favorite. The squash was sweet and spicy, and the yogurt dip was tangy, creamy, and refreshing. They just worked so well together.
Mast-o-Khiar is a Persian dip, which is relatively similar to a traditional Tzatziki. It is traditionally made with yogurt, cucumber, and mint. I got the idea from 101 Cookbooks, who garnishes her mast-o-khiar with rose petals, dried cranberries, and toasted almonds. I took mine in a slightly different direction, and used toasted almonds, pomegranate seeds, and a touch of flat leaf parsley. I thought it worked rather well.
ROASTED DELICATA SQUASH WITH MAST-O-KHIAR YOGURT DIP
Inspired by and adapted from 101 Cookbooks
For the roasted squash:
1-2 small delicata squash
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt & pepper
1.5 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
For the dip:
2 cups Greek yogurt
2 cloves of garlic
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely diced
High quality extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup toasted almonds
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
A few sprigs of flat-leaf parsley
To make the dip:
Peel the garlic cloves and place on a cutting board. Sprinkle the garlic cloves with salt, then mash or chop into a paste. Combine the garlic paste with the yogurt, dill, and mint. Refrigerate until you’re ready to serve. When ready to serve, stir in the diced cucumber and season with salt & pepper, to taste. Spoon into a serving dish and drizzle with olive oil and garnish with toasted almonds, pomegranate seeds, and chopped parsley.
To roast the squash:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Wash the squash and leave the skin on. Note: You could slice the squash into rings and de-seed each individual ring, but I prefer to de-seed the squash in one fell swoop. Here’s how you do it: Slice a 1/4″ or 1/2″ round off the top and bottom of the squash (discard these pieces). This should expose the soft center, and allow you to remove the seeds. Take a butter knife and insert it into the center of one of the exposed ends of the squash. Move the knife in a circular motion, and carve through the center of the squash from top to bottom, loosening seeds as you go. Make sure the knife penetrates through to the other end of the squash, and the seeds should fall right out. Once the squash is de-seeded, slice the squash into 1/4″ rings. Toss these rings with olive oil, salt, pepper, and spices. Lay squash rings in rows on a line baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until fork tender and golden brown. Allow to cool slightly before eating.