• Mia

Creamy Tahini and Butternut Gnocchi with Zingy Zhoug and Crispy Onions

One of my favourite dishes in the world is made up of the dreamy combination of tahini and Zhoug. For those who don't know, Zhoug is a firey condiment hailing from Yemen and is used widely in Middle Eastern dishes to provide a herby, zingy freshness. I'm addicted. It's the kind of condiment that can resurrect many lifeless, boring meals. In this dish, the creaminess of the tahini and butternut squash sauce is a sensational contrast to the Zhoug.

The idea of putting a fresh herby salsa (of sorts) on top of pasta came from the one and only Alison Roman with her caramalised shallot pasta. It was crazy how much a bit of fresh parsley and garlic elevated the dish. So I had to take it one step further...not only does the Zhoug here add a welcomed freshness, but the cumin and cardamon add a warmth and subtle spice you didn't know you needed. And of course crispy onions had to make an appearance...as always. Nothing beats a crispy onion. Maybe onion rings? Next time...

Here's what you'll need for the dish:

For the sauce:

325g butternut squash (peeled and cubed)

2 tbsp good quality tahini, always

2 tsp white miso

Salt and pepper

A squeeze of lemon, to taste 2 servings of gnocchi

For the Zhoug:

1-2 fresh jalapenos or chunky green chillis (depending on how much spice you want)

2 cloves garlic

1⁄2 tsp ground cardamon

1 tsp cumin

1 large bunch coriander (30g)

Pinch salt

60ml olive oil (more or less, depending on if you want a smooth or textured sauce, I prefer mine a little rougher)

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Crispy onions:

Splash olive oil

2 spring onions or 1 banana shallot


1. Bring plenty of water to boil in a large saucepan along with your veg stock cube(s). Once it's boiling, add your squash and cook until soft.

2. Whilst the squash is cooking, place all the ingredients for the Zhoug in a pestle and mortar, or failing that, a food processor. Adjust to your taste, you may want more salt, lemon or oil (for a smoother, more liquidy sauce)

3. Once the squash is fork tender, place into a blender with the tahini, miso and enough cooking liquid to loosen the mixture. Add cooking liquid until you reach desired consistency. Set to one side.

4. Finely slice your spring onions then fry over a low heat in plenty of veg oil in a large frying pan until crispy, not burnt (ideally)

5. To finish the dish, boil your gnocchi in the left over cooking liquid if there's enough. Make sure the water is at a rolling boil and is nicely salted. Once the gnocchi rise to the top, lift them straight from the saucepan into a clean frying pan with a little bit of oil. Fry until a little crispy.

6. Spoon in plenty of your sauce with a ladle of pasta water and stir until you get a creamy sauce.

6. Once everything is ready and hot through, spoon into bowl and serve with a drizzle (big drizzle) of Zhoug and those crispy onions. Enjoy xx

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