Our restaurant critic, Jonathan Gold, has stated on more than one occasion that we have entered the age of the roasted vegetable. This is no more evident than at two newish Venice restaurants, Nyesha Arrington’s Leona and Josiah Citrin’s Charcoal, which both feature them, and now at Moruno, the new Spanish restaurant at the Original Farmers Market, adjacent to the Grove. The restaurant, by chef Chris Feldmeier and managing partner David Rosoff, is named for Spanish snacks, mainly skewers of lamb and chicken. But it’s also where you’ll find an artichoke charred on the plancha, a half cabbage cooked on the rotisserie and a roasted squash that will have you forgoing dessert for a couple more bites. The sweet, blistered vegetable is topped with a handful of dukkah, the popular Egyptian condiment that includes sesame seeds, cashews and plenty of coriander, cumin and Aleppo pepper. Then there’s the butter — lots of it, in every nook of the squash, and throughout the dukkah itself. The last moments of dinner will be spent trying to extract every morsel of squash from its softened skin, and scooping up bits of dukkah from the plate underneath. This is dinner, dessert and everything in between.
Moruno's roasted butternut squash with dukkah
Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Toast the cashews on a rimmed baking sheet until lightly golden and fragrant, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove and cool.
Combine the sesame and nigella seeds on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven until fragrant, 4 to 6 minutes, or toast in a sauté pan until fragrant. Remove and cool.
Roughly chop the cashews and roughly grind or crush the cumin and coriander. In a sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat until it begins to brown. Add the coriander and cumin and toast until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the cashews and toast until the cashews begin to brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in the sesame and nigella seeds, along with the Aleppo pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste. Remove from heat and set aside.
Roasted butternut squash with dukkah
Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Score the flesh of each half in a crosshatch pattern, butter each half generously with butter, and liberally salt.
Place each half, cut-side up, on a rimmed baking sheet and roast until the squash is softened and the outside is caramelized, 40 to 60 minutes, checking every 10 minutes. The squash is ready when it is readily pierced with a paring knife.
Serve each squash half still hot, drizzled with one-half of the dukkah, 1 tablespoon browned butter and 1 to 2 tablespoons honey, or to taste.