Tunisian Winter Squash Puree

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This is one of many North African spicy cooked vegetable purees typically served as a starter. The authentic dish is seasoned with harissa, the spicy hot pepper paste used widely in Tunisia and Algeria. If you can get hold of harissa easily, substitute 1 teaspoon or more to taste for the cayenne. You can serve this as an hors d’oeuvre, side dish or salad.


  • 2

    pounds winter squash, such as kabocha or butternut

  • 2

    tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon or lime juice

  • 2

    tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 to 2

    garlic cloves (to taste), peeled, halved, green shoots removed

  • ½

    teaspoon salt (more to taste)

  • 1

    teaspoon freshly ground caraway seeds

  • ¾

    teaspoon freshly ground coriander seeds

  • ⅛ to ¼

    teaspoon cayenne, to taste

  • Small Romaine lettuce leaves and imported black olives for garnish

  • Nutritional Information
    • Nutritional analysis per serving (4 servings)

      153 calories; 8 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 5 grams monounsaturated fat; 0 grams polyunsaturated fat; 21 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams dietary fiber; 5 grams sugars; 2 grams protein; 300 milligrams sodium

    • Note:

      The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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  1. Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Cover a baking sheet with foil and brush lightly with olive oil. Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds and stringy membranes, brush the cut sides with olive oil and lay cut side down on the foil-covered baking sheet. Bake 40 minutes, or until soft enough to pierce easily with a knife. Remove from the heat and allow to cool, then peel and mash with a fork, or puree in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the lemon or lime juice and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.
  2. In a mortar and pestle, mash the garlic to a paste with the salt, and stir into the puree, along with the spices. Taste and adjust salt. Mound on a platter or in a wide bowl. Run a fork down the sides. Mix together the remaining lemon juice and olive oil and drizzle over the puree. Decorate with olives and serve with small lettuce leaves for scooping, and warm flat bread.
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