Butternut squash with homemade harissa

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Harissa, a garlicky North African chile sauce, is usually served with couscous and stews. The homemade harissa featured here is super simple to prepare, and any extra will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week, but jarred versions available at specialty markets make a fine substitute.

Ingredients for 6:

  • 3 garlic cloves, 2 thickly sliced
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds, ground in a spice grinder
  • 1/2 cup ITALICO Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds butternut squash-peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 375°. On a work surface, using the flat side of a chef’s knife, mash the whole garlic clove to a paste with a pinch of salt. Scrape the garlic paste into a small bowl and stir in the tomato paste and fresh lemon juice. Add the ancho chile powder, smoked paprika, cayenne, cumin and caraway. Gradually stir in 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season the harissa with salt.

In a bowl, toss the butternut squash and sliced garlic with 2 tablespoons of the harissa, the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the water and season with salt and pepper. Spread the squash in a single layer in an 8-inch square baking dish. Roast in the center of the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the squash is tender and browned in spots. The roasted squash can be refrigerated overnight. Rewarm in a 350° oven before serving.