I was craving a hearty salad, but after I began pulling my ingredients together, I ended up making the rice pilaf. It actually happens quite often to me when I am cooking in the kitchen, I start with one idea but end up with completely different dish. This recipe is delicious, hearty and healthy! Don’t be intimidated by a long list of ingredients, it’s very easy to make. Begin by cooking the rice: I used brown rice but you can also use wild rice for this dish. First, sauté onions and carrots. Add fresh grated ginger, cumin, cinnamon and garlic. Then add water and rice and cook for about 45 minutes. While rice is cooking, roast butternut squash with fresh thyme, nutmeg, pinch of brown sugar and cayenne pepper for a bit of heat. Finally, transfer cooked rice to a bowl, top it with roasted butternut squash, pistachios, feta and fresh herbs if desired. You can’t go wrong with this recipe, as it makes a great base for you to add different ingredients. Change it up to make it your own!
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1/2 cup chopped peeled carrot
- 1 tablespoon peeled fresh ginger, grated
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- Pinch cinnamon
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 1/2 cups 1/2-inch cubes peeled seeded butternut squash
- 2-3 fresh thyme sprigs ( or pinch of dried thyme)
- Pinch of brown sugar
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- Pinch of nutmeg
- 1 1/2 cups brown rice
- 3 cups water
- 2 tablespoons dried barberries (soaked for few minutes in boiled water with a pinch of sugar) or cranberries; note: you can purchase barberries at www. kalamala.com if you can’t find them in your grocery store
- 1/4 cup unsalted pistachios
- 1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled (optional)
- Salt, pepper to taste
- Fresh parsley and mint to garnish
- Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and carrot; sauté 5 minutes. Add ginger, cumin, cinnamon and garlic; stir 1 minute.
- Add rice and 3 cups water ( or follow the directions on the package) and salt. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until water is absorbed and rice is tender, about 45 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in barberries. Cover; let stand about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- While rice is cooking, preheat the oven to 400 F. Place the butternut squash on the baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, thyme, brown sugar, cayenne pepper, nutmeg and salt. Toss everything together to mix. Roast butternut squash for 18-20 minutes, or until softened and slightly caramelized. Remove from oven.
- Transfer rice to bowl. Top it with the roasted butternut squash, pistachios, feta cheese and garnish with fresh parsley and mint.