Skillet Roasted Butternut Squash and White Beans with Warm Spices

Serves 4.

Searing butternut squash in a wide pan yields a full-bodied, flavorful dish. A cast-iron skillet is best, but it's most important that the pan is big enough for the squash pieces to spread out so they turn brown and crisp. Za'atar is a Middle Eastern spice blend that's found in the spice aisles of most supermarkets and co-ops. To make your own, stir together 2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme, 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, 2 teaspoons ground sumac and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Store in a covered jar in a cool, dark place. From Beth Dooley.

3 tbsp. olive oil

1 medium butternut squash (about 1 1/2 to 2 lb.), seeded, peeled and cut into 1/2-in. slices

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tbsp. za'atar seasoning, or more to taste (see Note)

1 tbsp. chopped fresh thyme

• Juice of 1 lime

• 1 c. cooked or canned white beans, drained (see below)

• Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions

Film a 10- or 12-inch skillet with oil over medium heat. Add the squash and immediately toss to coat with the oil and spread in a single layer. Cook for about 3 to 5 minutes, stirring once or twice.

Lower the heat to medium, cover the skillet and continue cooking until the squash becomes tender, about 5 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the cover and stir the squash, browning pieces while scraping the pan with a wooden spoon or spatula to lift off all the brown bits, for another 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic, toss, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. If the squash begins to stick, add a few tablespoons of water.

As soon as the squash is tender and browned, toss in the za'atar, thyme, lime juice and a few tablespoons of water, and scrape the pan to lift and dissolve any of the brown bits on the bottom. Stir in the beans and toss together. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

To cook dry beans: Beans expand when they cook, so 1 cup of dry beans will yield about 3 cups cooked. Put beans in a pot and add enough water to cover by 4 inches. Set over high heat, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook the beans until tender, about 45 to 75 minutes, depending on the age and variety of the dried beans.