Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Ambercup Squash with Forbidden Rice and Cranberries

When my local growers market was still running, I bought several varieties of squash I hadn't tried before, or had only tried once or twice. I've been slowly working through the pile and recently tried my ambercup squash. I hadn't tried this type before because in my grocery stores past, it was always just in a pile of winter squash with no flavor profile descriptors to be seen. Fortunately my growers market did a much better job with describing it -- though for the life of me, I can't remember what the sign near the bin of these squash said.

Forbidden Rice
I wanted to bake my squash and stuff it and so I looked at my ingredients and saw I had some forbidden rice (a black rice) I'd purchased from my co-op around the same time I bought the squashes. I decided to boil it up, adding split red lentils and some flavorings, and then stuff the rice mixture into the baked squash.

This recipe was nice, because of the small size of the ambercup squashes I used. I could cut them in half and stick two halves in my toaster oven (I could have also used my regular oven, but I didn't actually need to make all the filled squash right away), start the rice, and take the dog on a run -- and do all this after work. After 30 minutes, the squash was quite tender, the rice was ready for lentils and cranberries, and I only had a little bit longer to wait for dinner.

I made the conscious decision to make this recipe vegan, because I know at the beginning of the year, a lot of people make promises to themselves about the eating habits they will adopt in the coming year. My regular readers know I play with vegan recipes regularly, but if you're new to the blog this is a great recipe to start with -- it's savory, filling, and doesn't use (too many) bizarre ingredients. If you don't have access to forbidden rice, you could certainly use a short grain brown rice in a very similar way. Nutritional yeast, which provides a lovely cheese-y flavor without cheese, is available at most major grocery stores now -- but certainly in the bulk section of stores that focus on whole food approaches to eating and online. And this filling could go in a number of different winter squashes, be eaten on top of salad, or (in the summer, though you might have to sub out the cranberries unless you're like me and stock up on cranberries while you can or happen to live in a place that keeps them in the freezer section of the grocery store year-round) stuffed in a large tomato.

Without Sunflower Seeds
You can use fewer cranberries, but I really like cranberries and try to eat as many as I can while the season permits, hence the wide range. They'll definitely add a tart flavor to your dish if you use way too many, but I liked the lightly tart taste they provided for this meal.

After all the hyper-indulgent food from the past month, this dish is a welcome respite, and full of flavors that still match the season without being the flavors of the season.

Roasted Ambercup Squash with Forbidden Rice and Fresh Cranberries
2 small/medium ambercup squash, cut in half with seeds removed
2/3 cup forbidden rice
2 cups water
1/4 cup split red lentils
1/2-1 cup fresh (frozen) cranberries (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon fines herbes
1/4 teaspoon salt
2-4 tablespoons nutritional yeast (to taste)
Shelled sunflower seeds, optional

Bake the squash, cut side down in a baking dish covered with a thin layer of water, for 30 minutes at 350 degrees then remove and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, combine rice and water in a small saucepan over high heat. When it boils, turn the heat to low and cover the pot. Cook 30 minutes.

After the rice has cooked for 30 minutes, increase the heat, remove the lid, and stir in the lentils, cranberries, and red pepper flakes. Cook 10 minutes and then stir in the fines herbes, salt, and nutritional yeast. Cook another 5-7 minutes to allow flavors to combine (add a small amount more water if the mixture begins to stick to the bottom of your pan -- you want it dry, but not so dry that it sticks).
Rice, lentils, cranberries, pepper flakes
Spoon the rice mixture into hollow part of the squashes and sprinkle the top with sunflower seeds, if desired.
(I like that they add a bit of extra crunch) Use salted and roasted, or raw, depending on your personal preference. Serve warm as a side dish, or a main meal.

No comments:

Post a Comment