The creamy sweetness and nuttiness of butternut squash make it a pretty amazing and forgiving canvas. In this case, the paint is a spicy mustard tahini dressing, which you might want to double and keep around for dipping everything you possibly can in. Honestly, I reckon even cardboard would have a fighting chance. While gremolata is more traditionally made with parsley, lemon zest, and garlic, I spun mine into a cilantro-lime version, swapping cilantro for the parsley and lime for the lemon. This adds a certain brightness and zest, because what is life without a little zest? Not one I’d like to live.–Samah Dada

A white bowl of roasted butternut squash with cilantro-lime gremolata with two bowls of sauce and gremolata on the side.

Roasted Butternut Squash with Cilantro-Lime Gremolata

5 / 3 votes
Roasted butternut squash with cilantro-lime gremolata is the perfect marriage of flavors. Sweet squash, spicy mustard, zesty lime, and nutty tahini come together in a way that's so incredibly tasty, you might not believe that it's good for you, too.
David Leite
Servings4 to 6 servings
Calories398 kcal
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time1 hour


For the squash

  • 1 (about 2 1/2 lbs) butternut squash*, seeds removed, cut into 1- to 2-inch (2.5- to 5-cm) cubes or slices
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup unsalted pumpkin seeds (optional)

For the cilantro-lime gremolata

  • 1 cup (1 oz) fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon grated lime zest, preferably organic
  • 1 (1 inch) knob fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons water

For the spicy mustard dressing

  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons water, plus more if needed


Roast the squash

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl, toss the butternut squash slices or cubes with olive oil, cumin, salt, and pepper.
  • Arrange the squash in a single layer on the lined baking sheet. Roast, tossing the pieces halfway through, until the squash is tender and browning around the edges, 30 to 40 minutes.

Make the cilantro-lime gremolata

  • While the squash is in the oven, in a high-speed blender or food processor, combine all ingredients and blend until finely minced and incorporated.

    ☞ TESTER TIP: If your blender can’t process small volumes of liquid, use an immersion blender.

Make the spicy mustard dressing

  • In a small bowl, combine the mustard, tahini, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Add 3 to 4 tablespoons of water to thin the dressing, or more as needed, to get the dressing to your desired consistency.
  • To assemble, remove the butternut squash from the oven and arrange it on a plate. Drizzle the spicy mustard dressing over the squash, then top it with the cilantro-lime gremolata. Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds, if desired.


*What can I substitute for butternut squash?

Butternut squash shouldn’t be that hard to find—but if you just don’t care for it there are alternatives. For the most part, you can substitute nearly any other squash but the best choices are acorn, buttercup, delicata, and Hubbard. Want to hear something that’ll knock your socks off? You can also use sweet potatoes in this recipe, in place of the squash.

Adapted From

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 398 kcalCarbohydrates: 43 gProtein: 9 gFat: 25 gSaturated Fat: 4 gPolyunsaturated Fat: 7 gMonounsaturated Fat: 13 gTrans Fat: 1 gSodium: 475 mgPotassium: 1235 mgFiber: 8 gSugar: 7 gVitamin A: 30439 IUVitamin C: 74 mgCalcium: 189 mgIron: 4 mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2021 Samah Dada. Photo © 2021 Julia Gartland. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

I love all the components of this roasted butternut squash with cilantro-lime gremolata: the sweetness of the pumpkin with a slight touch of cumin, and the contrast of its creaminess with the texture of the pumpkin seeds, is, in itself, an excellent combination. The gremolata prepared with cilantro and lime introduces an intense freshness, and, frankly, much better than the classic combination of parsley and lemon. To make all of this perfect, the mustard and tahini sauce, which has a slightly spicy and nut flavor. A recipe that you should really try!

A baking sheet with roasted butternut squash with cilantro-lime granita in a bowl on the side.

We absolutely LOVED this roasted butternut squash with cilantro-lime gremolata, which was reminiscent of my favorite Squash with Chile Yogurt and Cilantro Sauce from Ottolenghi’s “Plenty More”. There’s an outstanding interplay of textures and flavors, between the soft and sweet squash, the creamy savory tahini sauce, and the acidic brightness of the cilantro sauce.

We cut our squash into slices, and they cooked evenly and were easy to turn halfway through. For whatever reason, I must have been on autopilot and set the oven for 425°F instead of 400°F (my usual vegetable roasting temp), but found my squash was perfect at 35 minutes, so I anticipate this would take longer for 400°F than the time listed. All in all, delicious, easy, and certainly going to make it again.

I love trying new vegetable side dishes–and this roasted butternut squash with cilantro-lime gremolata didn’t disappoint. I had butternut squash in my fridge for weeks and this recipe finally inspired me to cook it! I often find butternut squash too sweet, but the cilantro-lime gremolata and the spicy mustard dressing counteracted the sweetness and overall was delicious and balanced.

I’d recommend using an immersion blender for the gremolata (there wasn’t enough volume for my high-speed blender to work its magic). I cooked my squash for significantly longer (total of 50 mins) as I wanted it to be roasted, rather than soft and steamed (which is what it looked like at 20 mins). Overall, this was a nice change to regular old squash! I served it with roasted chicken drumsticks and an arugula salad.

About David Leite

David Leite has received three James Beard Awards for his writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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