Butternut Squash Hummus (Inspired By Blue Hill)
It’s not an exaggeration to say that I’m obsessed with Blue Hill, the restaurant and farm experimentation center that serves as the center for Dan Barber’s culinary and activism work. Barber is the author of The Third Plate, and one of the leaders in innovating techniques that help small farmers produce higher quality produce, for more profit. Essentially, he’s trying to save small farms from being taken over by big agriculture—but over at the restaurant side of the establishment, he’s just making really, really good food. Like, the best food you’ve had in your life. This food comes with a price tag—about $500 with wine pairings, tax and tip a person. Zack and I have gone twice, both times on birthdays, and it was both the present and the celebration—and even then it felt expensive. But, man, is it an experience. Over 5 hours, the mind-bogglingly informed service staff lay 20+ plates in front of you, from vegetables picked just hours prior to emu pasta and chocolate eggs. It’s one of the best meals I’ve had in my life, but also one of the best experiences, akin to theater and food all wrapped up in a delicious, mesmerizing package.
Once a year, the non profit part of the farm hosts a Harvest Festival to raise money for their innovation practices. Zack and I have taken to going because it’s a great way to get a few bites of Blue Hill food at a normal ticket price—and the stunning upstate foliage and clean country air don’t hurt the equation at all.
This hummus is inspired by a hummus we had there, made with their signature honeynut squash. You can’t get honeynut very commonly, so here, I subbed butternut squash, but added a bit of maple syrup to mimic the Blue Hill squash’s sweet, syrupy flavor. Combined with the protein-rich chickpeas, bitter tahini, and a bit of cilantro to brighten, it’s one of the best hummuses (hummii?) I’ve ever had, and a wonderful way to celebrate the season.
- 1 cup mashed butternut squash (instructions below)
- 1/2 cup tahini
- 1 13.5 ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 4 - 5 cloves of garlic
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more to toss butternut squash
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to toss butternut squash
- 1/2 cup packed cilantro
- Preheat oven to 450. Slice butternut squash in half long ways (no need to peel) and scoop out the seeds. Lightly brush it with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, then roast, orange flesh down, on a parchment lined pan until brown on pan-side and soft inside, about 40 minutes.
- Let cool, then scoop out 1 cup of flesh, reserving any remaining for another use.
- Add butternut squash to a food processor fitted with a metal blade with tahini, chickpeas, garlic, oil, maple syrup, cumin, and salt. Process until very smooth. Pulse in cilantro.
- Serve with crudités of choice. Makes about 2 - 3 cups.