Sunday, November 28, 2010

Winter Squash and Black Rice

Squash went crazy in Seattle this fall. I'm sure that's always been the case (there's not a whole lot of cold-weather produce to promote), but for some reason it really caught my attention this year: Flats full of acorns and family every time I pass the QFC to and from the bus. Butternut squash soup on every Restaurant Week menu. Squash cooking tips at the pumpkin patch.

My first seasonal attempt began with a butternut dish for my dinner-party-turned-pot-luck. I was originally going for the squash, lentil, goat cheese salad; however I couldn't find black lentils at the store and was running too late to look elsewhere. The green and brown just didn't have that festive feeling, so lentils became black rice, and the goat cheese just got forgotten completely. So...

Butternut and Black Rice Salad (adapted from Smitten Kitchen):

- 1 large butternut squash, peeled, cubed and seeded (save the seeds)
- 3 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 tsp. sweet Spanish paprika
- 1/4 tsp. Cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss squash cubes in a bowl with olive oil, cumin, paprika, cayenne, cinnamon, and salt.

Begin boiling water for the rice (following rice-cooking instructions on package, the whole process will probably take approx 50 minutes... do while preparing the squash).

Rinse and dry the squash seeds. Toss on a baking sheet with a little oil and coarse salt and put in oven. Pay attention to popping sounds or burning smells and check frequently, stirring occasionally. Toasting should take about 10 minutes.

When oven is fully heated, spread squash cubes in glass baking dishes or baking sheets and roast in oven for about 20 minutes. Remove, flip the cubes, and roast for another 20 minutes or until browning on top and soft inside.

Remove and combine squash, rice, and toasted seeds. Drizzle with any remaining oil cooked together with squash and sprinkle with extra coarse salt if desired. Add goat cheese if desired (remembered):

Honey-Cheddar Corn Muffins....


- 1 1/2 cups cornmeal
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda

- 2 cups fresh corn kernels
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 6 tbsp. butter (melted) or oil (I did 3 of each)
- 6 tbsp. honey
- 2 cups coarsely grated cheddar cheese

Preheat Oven to 400 degrees. Grease muffin tins.

Combine all dry ingredients (cornmeal, flour, salt, pepper, baking soda &powder) and whisk together in a large bowl.

Use a food processor or other blending utensil to puree 1 cup of the corn. Combine pureed corn with oil, butter, buttermilk, honey, and egg. Whisk together. Add to dry ingredients and stir until almost combined. Fold in grated cheese (except 1/4 cup) and remaining corn kernels.

Spoon into muffin tins and top with remaining cheese. Bake for 20 minutes. If tops are not browned, increase heat to 500 and bake for another 5 minutes.

Remove, cool, and serve with honey.