This roasted pumpkin recipe makes a delicious Middle Eastern side dish of sweet roast pumpkin doused in a delightfully tangy yoghurt, garlic and lemon sauce, generously sprinkled with dukkah and sumac, scattered with toasted cashews and pistachios, and garnished with fresh dill. The dukkah and nuts add texture, while sumac gives the dish a distinctively Middle Eastern flavour.
Our easy roasted pumpkin recipe will make you an addictively delicious Middle Eastern roast pumpkin side dish. The roast pumpkin is drizzled with a zingy yoghurt, garlic and lemon sauce, sprinkled with the crunchy Egyptian condiment of pounded nuts, seeds and spices called dukkah, and dusted with citrusy sumac for even more Middle Eastern flavour.
This roast pumpkin recipe is one of my favourite Middle Eastern recipes. We lived in the Middle East for eight years, travelled the region for even longer as travel and food writers, and adore Middle Eastern food. We’re especially fond of the Levantine cuisines of Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, where grilled and roasted vegetable dishes are often served with a tangy yoghurt sauce.
Like the Middle Eastern rice with spices, nuts and raisins that we recently shared, this roasted pumpkin dish makes a fantastic side for mains such as garlicky shish tawook or kofta kebab. Start off the meal with mezze such as hummus and baba ganoush and serve with Middle Eastern salads such as tabbouleh and fatoush and you have a proper Middle Eastern feast.
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Roasted Pumpkin Recipe with Yoghurt Garlic Lemon Sauce and Dukkah
Our easy roasted pumpkin recipe will make you a moreish Middle Eastern vegetable side dish of roast pumpkin drizzled in a yoghurt garlic lemon sauce, scattered with dukkah and toasted nuts, and garnished with fragrant dill. If you like dishes that are loaded with texture and flavour you’re going to love this dish.
I don’t know about you, but I adore pumpkins, anything made with pumpkin, whether savoury or sweet – pumpkin soup, pumpkin hummus, pumpkin salads, pumpkin desserts – and any kind of pumpkins. Know that you can use any variety of pumpkin or squash for this roasted pumpkin recipe, but it’s best with a sweet deeply flavoured pumpkin.
I’ve loved pumpkins since I was a little kid playing in the dirt amongst the tomato vines. A retired dairy farmer, my Australian grandfather had a big veggie garden in the backyard of their home in the western Sydney suburbs. Pop grew colossal slate-grey pumpkins with dark orange flesh called a Queensland blue in Australia, although they’re grown all over the country.
Pop’s pumpkin harvest was always huge, too. The roasted home-grown pumpkins would take pride of place on the plates of ‘meat and three veg’, the traditional Australian dinner back in those days, which Nanna served most nights with a roast, fresh peas and beans, and a rich gravy.
Nanna also used Pop’s pumpkins in homemade soups and pumpkin scones, which we’d eat piping-hot, fresh out of the oven, generously spread with butter, and when they’d had their fill of pumpkin, they’d give them away to neighbours and family members.
At home in Siem Reap, I use the sweet dark-green camboja pumpkins, which are used for Khmer sweets there, such as this caramelised pumpkin sago pudding. Portuguese sailors took the camboja from Cambodia to Japan way back in 1541. Globally, they’re now better known as kabocha or Japanese pumpkin or Japanese squash.
Pumpkins are a massively popular vegetable in the Middle East, also – especially in the Levant countries of Lebanon and Syria, where they grow gigantic pumpkins that are deeply flavoured.
Like in Southeast Asia, pumpkins in the Middle East are used to make both sweet and savoury dishes – everything from pumpkin pie and candied pumpkin to pumpkin ‘hummus’ and pumpkin kibbeh, and our roasted pumpkin dish.
Vegetables in the Middle East, whether roasted vegetables, grilled vegetables or stuffed vegetables are often served with a yoghurt sauce, either in a bowl on the side for people to add as they like or drizzled on top by the cook, as I’ve done.
The simplest yoghurt sauce is typically flavoured with garlic, often with garlic and lemon, and sometimes with onion, and perhaps fresh or dried herbs such as mint or dill. I’ve left the herbs out of the sauce and garnished the dish with dill instead.
Tips to Making this Roasted Pumpkin Recipe with Yoghurt Garlic Lemon Sauce and Dukkah
A few tips to making our roasted pumpkin recipe with yoghurt garlic lemon sauce and dukkah as it’s a super easy recipe to make and comes together in no time.
The first thing to do is put the pumpkin on to roast. But before you do, you’ll want to cover the pumpkin pieces in extra virgin olive oil, salt and ground cumin – or any other spice of your choice.
I like to combine the extra virgin olive oil, salt and cumin powder together in a small bowl first and then after I lay the pumpkin pieces out on the baking tray. My best tip: use a pastry brush to coat the pumpkin pieces in the spiced olive oil.
I do this because I loathe wasting precious ingredients such as extra virgin olive oil, which is so expensive these days, and also because I want to evenly coat the pumpkin pieces in the spiced oil.
I’ll never forget watching the likes of Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay prepping vegetables to roast on their cooking shows many years ago and liberally pouring the extra virgin olive oil all over the veggies without a care for the cost. I used to cringe at the waste and couldn’t do it then and definitely can’t do that now.
Some chefs and cookbook writers pour the olive oil over the vegetables in a bowl and use their hands to coat the veggies but you still end up with loads of wasted oil coating your hands. I’m sure it’s probably wonderful for your skin but it’s a waste of pricey extra virgin olive oil.
I recommend roasting the pumpkin pieces for around 15 minutes until they begin to soften, brown and even char a tad, but cook the pumpkin as you like, whether that’s for a less time if you prefer your pumpkin a bit firmer or for even longer if you like a little char. Char is good.
While the pumpkin is roasting, you’ve got time to do the three other things that need to be done: make yoghurt sauce (which is a cinch), toast the nuts (which is super-fast), and if you don’t already have some dukkah in a jar, then you’ve got time to prep that. You’ll need this dukkah recipe.
Roasted Pumpkin Recipe with Yoghurt Garlic Lemon Sauce and Dukkah
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp cumin
- 500 g pumpkin - peeled, deseeded and chopped into 3-4cm pieces
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp white pepper
- 1 cup Greek yogurt or creamy natural yogurt
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup cashew nuts
- ¼ cup pistachios
- 2 tbsp dukkah
- 1 tsp sumac
- 2 tbsp fresh dill
- Preheat your oven to 220°C (430°F) and line an oven tray with baking paper.
- Pour the olive oil into a small bowl and stir in the salt and cumin until well combined; spread the pumpkin pieces out on the tray, ensuring they’re spaced apart; use a pastry brush to coat the pumpkin pieces with the spiced olive oil; then slide the tray into the oven onto the top shelf.
- Roast the pumpkin pieces for 15 minutes or so until they start to soften, begin to brown and even char a little; slide the tray out of the oven; use tongs to turn the pieces over; brush any leftover spiced olive oil onto the pieces then return the tray to the oven for another 10 minutes or so.
- Make the yogurt sauce after putting the pumpkin on to roast so the flavours can meld together: in a small bowl, stir the lemon juice, garlic powder, salt and white pepper together; pour in the yogurt and olive oil and stir vigorously so everything is well combined, then set aside.
- In a small fry pan over medium heat, toast the whole cashews, moving the pan continually so the cashews don’t burn; as soon as they start to colour remove them and slide them into a small dish, then do the same to the pistachios.
- When the pumpkin is roasted to your liking, transfer the pieces to a serving plate, douse the pumpkin pieces with the yogurt sauce, then sprinkle on each of the dukkah, toasted nuts, sumac, and fresh dill, and serve immediately.
Please do let us know if you make our roasted pumpkin recipe with yoghurt garlic lemon sauce and dukkah, as we’d love to hear how it turns out for you.