Last weekend, I arm wrestled a large, angry roller derby girl who was so aggressive, she was foaming at the mouth (truth: she was large, but actually quite congenial and definitely not foaming at the mouth). It was a hard-fought battle.
Said arm-wrestling took place at the annual H Street Festival in a rapidly-gentrifying section of Northeast DC known as the Atlas District. Over the past few years and up until about a year ago, H Street, NE had developed an enclave of cool, kitschy bars that attracted a modest but healthy crowd (gems: Palace of Wonders, Granville Moore’s). Very recently, however, shops and restaurants have started springing up in every lot between 8th and 14th Streets. As a result, the festival was CROW. DED. In a good way. In a diverse way. The way that reminds you that you really are part of a giant city with millions of people who live their lives in all sorts of awesomely different ways (because sometimes DC can feel empty, like downtown on weekends, and buttoned-up, like my office everyday).
Participating in the festivities were the DC Roller Girls. For $1, you had your choice of Roller Girl to arm wrestle (unfortunate: somehow I got hosed into picking the RG that hadn’t been picked to wrestle anyone yet...ummm, for a reason). But I was undeterred. Earlier that day, I had prepared - and snacked on - my absolute fave salad of roasted butternut squash and chickpeas for a post-festival BBQ at my friend Joe’s. Joe very presciently invested in a home near burgeoning H Street about a year ago. Butternut squash is colorful and fibrous and full of anti-oxidants (how could I lose, right?).
Wrong. Despite the power-squash and the many hours I’ve logged pumping iron (truth: zero hours logged pumping iron), I lost. Next time I’ll wear skates.
The best thing about this dish is that as long as you get good butternut squash, it doesn’t matter what spices you add, this dish will taste good. Swap out the curry for fresh cilantro and you have a tasty Latin dish. Use cardamom and cinnamon, and add a little soy milk or cream for a winter warmer. Yum.
Curried Chickpea and Roasted Butternut Squash
2 cans chickpeas
2-3 cups fresh or frozen butternut squash (fresh is best!), cubed
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 roma or 1/2 beefsteak tomato, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1-1/2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. curry (I used yellow, but any curry works)
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil, lots
1/4 cup water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drain and rinse chickpeas; toss with olive oil until lightly coated. Roast chickpeas for 10-15 minutes (remove when chickpeas start to split open).
In a deep pan or stockpot, heat 3 tbs. of olive oil over medium heat and add diced onions. Cook onions until soft. Add garlic and cook for 3-5 more minutes. Add squash and cook for another 15 minutes or until squash can be broken down with a spoon. Add spices and 2 tbs. of oil and mash squash fully with spoon or potato masher (mash to whatever consistency you like; I like mine a little lumpy). Add chickpeas and 1/4 cup water. Mash chickpeas roughly. Finally, add tomatoes and stir to incorporate.
Feel free to add oil as needed throughout the cooking process. Serve in a pita, over greens or by itself.
Serves 8-10 as a side dish or 4-6 as a main course.