butternut squash fattet

Fattet is a dish of frugality and flexibility. The dish hangs itself around the using up of stale bread (fattet means pieces in Arabic) and in that vein I would recommend making this when you have some bits and pieces that you want to use up. Any bread works well with this.

I used roasted butternut squash here but other options could be carrot, beetroot or cauliflower. Pieces of leftover cooked meat, chickpeas, stock and a few herbs, seeds or nuts also fit well. Use the base and make it your own.

Squash makes for a very hearty and warming option, the sauce clinging nicely to the densely textured flesh and contrasting nicely with the crunchy pieces of bread.

The other vital part of this dish is a very garlicky sauce. You can make a more tahini based sauce with a little yoghurt or vice versa. I go for more of a yoghurt base here with a little tahini for a lighter and silkier sauce. Cut through the richness with something acidic like a apple vinegar or lemon juice, which lightens it up and makes a slightly sour and needed contrast to the sweet squash.

Fattet in the Middle East tends to be eaten for breakfast, but that is not for the faint hearted due to the garlickyness. My preference is for a late brunch or lunch. For brunch serve in a large dish with some pickles and boiled eggs on the side. For lunch, serve in individual bowls with spoons and a big leafy salad.

Dress with plenty of olive oil, fresh complimentary herbs and some toasted nuts or seeds for extra crunch.

Serves – 4

Time – 45 minutes

Ingredients

2 pieces of bread torn into small pieces

300g butternut or other seasonal squash cut into small bite size cubes

150 g of cooked chickpeas (optional)

350g plain greek style yoghurt

2 tbsp tahini

1/2 tsp ground cumin

Sea salt

Extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves of garlic finely chopped

1 tsp sumac

50g pine nuts or other nuts or seeds

1 – 2 tbsp of thyme, mint, parsely, dill or coriander

2-3 tbsp broth / stock (optional)

*Other suggested toppings for serving – caramelised onion, pomegranate rills, toasted pumpkin seeds or roasted and roughly chopped almonds

Method

Heat the oven to gas mark 7 or 200 ÂșC

Toss the pieces of butternut squash in a 2 tbsp of olive oil and sprinkle with 1 tsp of sumac and 1 tsp sea salt. Roast in the oven for approx 25-30 minutes. They should be soft but not mushy.

For the bread; toss the pieces in olive oil (or melted gee as a rich and decadent option) coating the pieces of bread very well. Sprinkle with 1 tsp sea salt and roast for approximately 20 minutes in the oven until crisp and golden.

For the pine nuts; warm 1 cm depth of olive oil in a small pan and gently fry. Drain off the oil and pat the pine nuts dry. You can also use chopped raw almonds as a topping or toasted pumpkin seeds for a lovely crunch.

For the yoghurt sauce; in a bowl combine the yoghurt with the tahini, finely chopped garlic, cumin, a pinch of salt, 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp apple vinegar or lemon, 1-2 tbsp of warmed stock / broth if using and combine well.

You can also toss a little stock / broth with the bread just before serving, which gives the bread a really deep and savoury flavour. Do not mix them together too soon, or the bread will go soggy.

The classic way to serve this is to use a deep dish / bowl and separately layer half the bread, then half the squash, then half the chickpeas then another layer of the squash followed by the rest of the bread and pour the dressing over. Smooth the top and then sprinkle over the nuts, remaining chickpeas, herbs, spices and olive oil.

Due to time poverty, I tend to toss the squash, bread and chickpeas together, pour over the yoghurt dressing and then sprinkle over the herbs, nuts and olive oil.

Serve immediately with spoons, pickles, salad etc.

I also really like this later on in the day when the bread is soft and almost becomes part of the dressing. Try it both ways!

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