Middle Eastern food is food of pure delight. The colours, textures, delicate spices and rich fragrances all combine to deliver a cuisine that is sumptuous yet light, unless like me you eat copious amounts of flatbreads dunked in delicious colourful pots of various dips before, during and after the meal.
Houmous is a staple of any middle eastern food, but has always fought for my affections against the yoghurty based dips that are lighter in texture. However a recent search for non dairy foods led me to a pumpkin houmous that is easy to make and tasty to eat without the slightly pulpy texture that you sometimes find with chickpea houmous.
All you need is:
Tahini (you can buy this in jars at the supermarket but it might be in the specialist section, you can also get it in most Arabic run corner shops if you live near one)
Take a small pumpkin or squash (butternut is fine but the greener varieties of squash tend to be less sweet which works well for this) and chop it into chunks. You don't even need to take the skin off at this point.
I find the best way to prep veg for roasting is to put it all in a freezer bag with some olive oil and any seasoning you want before giving it a good mush up then pouring out on to your roasting tray.
Roast the squash at about 190 for 25 - 30 mins. You want it to be nice and soft all the way through but without too much colour from the cooking.
Once you have it roasted, let it cool down and then scrape the flesh from the skin into a bowl, add a tablespoon of Tahini, the juice of one lemon and a crushed garlic clove (more if you want it strong) then whizz it all up with a hand blender (or pop it all in a food processor if you don't have one) until it is the texture that you want it to be. Taste it and make sure it is seasoned the way you want it then serve. You will have a bowl of bright orange dip that is both sweet and savoury, smooth but with body and the perfect addition to a middle eastern meal.
You could add smoked paprika to the squash oil before you roast it or top it with toasted pine nuts before you serve it. It works as an appetizer with vegetable chips a starter with some flat bread, a filling for sandwiches with some roasted veg or char grilled meat or an amazing accompaniment to sizzling kebabs fresh from the grill.
For tea tonight I will be having lamb kebabs, whole meal pitta, salad and squash houmous.