Brain Food: Warm Butternut Chickpea Salad - Recipe

This salad is a full meal.  It has warm spiced butternut squash with chickpeas and a tahini dressing over mixed lettuce.  

I was excited when I realized this recipe I've been making for years fits nicely into the Wahls Diet.  It's gluten free, dairy free and includes leafy greens and bright colors.  

I'm challenging myself to follow the Wahls Diet for one month!  All the recipes and posts during this time will be on my experiences as I learn to cook organ meats, eat nine cups of fruits and veggies in a day and give up gluten and dairy.   I'm calling this series Brain Food.  Here's the intro post if you missed it.  

I saw this recipe on Smitten Kitchen and from the picture and title I wasn't convinced.  It was Deb's enthusiastic praise that this is a recipe she could eat forever.  And now that I have gone back and re-read her post, I realize this is not her recipe it is from Molly of the blog Orangette who adapted it from a cookbook from the UK’s Moro restaurant.  You know it is a good recipe when it gets passed down the culinary ranks. I'll add my two cents and say yes this recipe has been part of my household's regular meal plan for at least two years.  It is excellent left over too.  

I made a couple of changes so it fits the Wahls Diet even better.  
  1. I exchanged the oil for roasting the butternut squash from olive to coconut.  Coconut or animal fats are the only oils Wahls approves for heating.  Recently on The Wahls Foundation Facebook Page this was posted: "Coconut oil is ok for heating, clarified butter (removes proteins) and rendered animal fats all ok for heating. All others cold. Heating food at high temps damages vitamins, antioxidants, takes away compounds your cells wanted to use."
  2. I switched up regular table salt to sea salt because sea salt counts towards the one teaspoon of minerals daily. Sea salt has iodine, zinc and other trace nutrients that straight salt lacks.
  3. Instead of using canned chickpeas which are probably in a tin lined with BPA plastic; I hydrated and sprouted dry chickpeas and then cooked them in stock.  I do large batches of chickpeas and freeze them for both this recipe and hummus.  The soaking and sprouting reduces their phytic acid and increases nutrition.  The stock adds minerals.

    “The process of germination not only produces vitamin C, but also changes the composition of grains and seeds in numerous beneficial ways. Sprouting increases vitamin B content, especially B2, B5, and B6. Carotene increases dramatically-sometimes even eightfold.” Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions
  4. I added a base of lettuce or spinach.  There is plenty of tahini dressing for some greens so serve this salad over even more salad.  Get your three cups of leafy greens a day!
Even if you aren't interested in following the Wahls Diet, give this one a go.  It's an excellent recipe year round!  A little side note to my sister who has more squash than she knows what to do with from her garden last year: Clarissa, try this salad!

Warm Butternut and Chickpea Salad

Warm Portion of Salad:
1 large butternut squash, peeled and cleaned and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 head of garlic, cloves peeled and trimmed but left whole (save one for dressing)
1 teaspoon ground all spice
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Fresh Portion of Salad:
2 cups of cooked chickpeas (see above for how I prepare dried chickpeas)
1/4 red onion, minced
1 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
9 cups lettuce or spinach

1 garlic clove, finely minced with a pinch of sea salt
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons tahini (sesame seed paste - find it in the international or health food part of your grocery)
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons high quality cold press virgin olive oil (bonus points for upgrading to flax or hemp seed oil)

Yields 3 dinner portions
  1. Start by preheating your oven to 425.  In a large bowl toss the butternut squash and garlic cloves with all spice, coconut oil and sea salt.  Arrange the mixture on a baking sheet in a single layer.  Roast for 25 minutes or until the squash has browned and is fork tender.
  2. While the butternut is baking make the dressing.  Combine the minced garlic, lemon juice, tahini, water and oil.  Depending on my mood and how thick the tahini is I either run it through the food processor or whisk by hand.  Add up to 2 tablespoons more water if the mixture isn't the consistency you would like.
  3. To plate place three cups of greens on a dinner plate.  Heap 1/3 of the warm butternut squash in center.  Sprinkle 2/3 cup of chickpeas and 1/3 of the red onion on top.  Drizzle a generous amount of dressing on top and garnish with 1/3 cup cilantro.  


  1. This looks fantastic! I just discovered you, I think maybe via Twitter? My maiden name was Foy (maybe we're related?!) so I clicked over to find out more about you and now I'm stoked to read more! So great to meet you!

    1. Glad you found your way here! It's nice to meet you too.

      Do you have German heritage? My mom the family genealogist traced us back to Foys in Germany. They lived along a road that was used as a pilgrimage to a church in France were the bones of St. Foy were kept. Foy is the old spelling of foi which means faith in French.

    2. Crazy! No German that I know of. I've always been told our family name came from Ireland, but I should go back to our books and check. I love that foi means faith. Beautiful.

    3. I seem to recall that Foy mean Raven in Celtic. Not sure if I am remembering the language right. Here we go: http://www.houseofnames.com/foy-family-crest. It's gaelic.

  2. Foy, I will definately try this recipe, I've seen it several times and have always shied away-- looks too healthy to be good. But if you say so, I will try it!

  3. This sounds yummy :) I've never tried winter squash in a salad before. Thanks for sharing this on Wildcrafting Wednesday!

    I would love to have you join me on Thursdays for The HomeAcre Hop :)

  4. This looks amazing! Pinning this to try later. Just found you through the Encourage One Another link up:)

  5. This recipe looks delicious but doesn't Wahl's not include any legumes, such as chickpeas? Many thanks

    1. I should amend this recipe. When I first started learning and writing about Dr. Wahls, she didn't have much information out there. Her first book had contradictory recipes that included legumes. Since then she has clarified no beans or peas.

    2. You can have 2 servings per week max of any dried bean if you are on Wahls Paleo or Paleo Plus according to her book "The Wahls Protocol". Hope this helps someone!

    3. You can have 2 servings per week max of any dried bean if you are on Wahls Paleo or Paleo Plus according to her book "The Wahls Protocol". Hope this helps someone!

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.