Butternut Squash, Onion Jam, and Red Caviar on Naan
Recipe and photo by Tami Ganeles Weiser
Prep Time: 45 minutes Straining Time: 12 hours Cook Time: 1 hour
These appetizers originated as a riff on a dish from Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s ABC Kitchen in New York, which Mindy Kaling Instagrammed and then made at home. I had fun amping up the flavor of the squash with one of my favorite spice mixes and then combined it with the umami powerhouse of caramelized onions with anchovy paste (trust me, it does not taste like fish—it’s alchemy, and it works). Strained yogurt adds a cooling note, and the caviar adds a salty pop. Now, I am not suggesting that you pick up a grand’s worth of sevruga or beluga. The red salmon version is great, and priced reasonably (think the red sushi roes). I also created this dish to be made in parts, over a few days, if you wish, making it much easier to assemble. By the way, if you want a crunchy note, toast the naan just before putting this together, or use pita chips.
Yogurt Cheese and Salmon Roe Garnish:
½ cup Greek yogurt
⅓ cup fresh red salmon roe
2 pounds peeled, seeded butternut squash, cut into ½-inch pieces
1½ teaspoons Savory Ras al Hanout spice mixture (see Kitchen Tips)
Leaves of 12 fresh thyme sprigs, finely minced (see Kitchen Tips)
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
¾ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
Caramelized Onion Jam:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon canola oil
8 large onions (7 pounds), peeled, halved, cored, and very thinly sliced
2 teaspoons anchovy paste
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Make the yogurt cheese: Line a fine-mesh sieve with several layers of cheesecloth and place it securely over a bowl. Place the yogurt in the cheesecloth and refrigerate overnight. Discard the accumulated liquid at the bottom and save the strained yogurt. Set aside until you assemble the dish. This can be kept refrigerated in a covered container for up to 2 days.
- Prepare the butternut squash: Preheat the oven to 385°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the squash in a mixing bowl with the Ras al Hanout, thyme, oil, salt, and pepper and toss gently to coat well. Arrange the pieces on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer and roast for about 35 minutes, until completely cooked through and easy to pierce with a fork. This can be made up to 1 day in advance, refrigerated in a covered container, and reheated before serving.
- Make the onion jam: Heat the oil in a large skillet set over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened and lightly browned. Reduce the heat to a simmer, add the anchovy paste and pepper, stir to combine and cook for another 35 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until caramelized, completely softened, and deep brown in color. Use immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
- To serve: Cut the naan into wedges. (If you are using regular-sized naans, cut each into 8 pieces; cut mini-naans into quarters; see Kitchen Tips). Top each piece of naan with a few chunks of the squash, a dollop of onion jam, a dollop of the yogurt cheese and some of the roe. Serve immediately.
- To remove the leaves from a sprig of fresh thyme, hold the sprig (or a few) at the top with one hand, and with the other hand, grasp the stem with your thumb and forefinger and gently slide your fingers down the stem. The leaves will be pushed against the direction they grow in, and will come off easily.
- Ras al Hanout is a North African spice blend. Yes, you can find it in the well-stocked markets, at specialty spice shops or online, but read the label carefully because it’s one of those seasonings that comes in many variations—sweet, savory, hot, etc.—and every cook has her own special recipe. This recipe calls for savory. I make my own blend and like the balance of savory flavors; it’s easy and you can whip up a big batch and keep it for several months.
- If you wish, for a crisp foundation to this dish, simply toast the naan lightly before dolloping and serving.