Sunday, October 30, 2022

Butternut Squash For Fall - Zucchini For Summer

By now we have usually taken in our front porch wicker furniture because of rain, but this year we continue to have weather more like June than October...including some fog, which I love. No rain.

This recipe reflects the two seasons in a way. I'm just beginning my use of winter this case butternut and have almost finished using the zucchini from my garden because we are not getting very much any more and mostly little ones at that. This recipe has both, plus some mushrooms and two kinds of rice, plus pecans and orange juice and zest. What ties it together is olive oil and balsamic vinegar, plus a bit of maple syrup on the roast veggies.

I saw a recipe on my phone for something similar to this a week or so ago, but couldn't find it when it was time to make this dish, so I sort of put things together that sounded right in proportions that seemed right and it worked out pretty well. Sweetie raved and had two servings.

 Although I often peel, de-seed and cut up fresh butternut squash, today I used a container from the grocery store that had already prepared chunks in it. I did cut a few of the larger chunks in half, but other wise just threw them into the mixing bag. The zucchini were small so I used two, cutting off the ends and cutting them in half, then slicing them. The mushrooms were already cleaned and sliced. You can use any kind of mushroom you like...these are plain white ones but cremini or one of the fancy ones would be delicious, too.

Do use a fresh orange for this. The zest and fresh juice are a background note, but make a big difference and that won't happen without the fresh oils in the zest and the unmistakable taste of fresh OJ.

I used a rice cooker for the rice but just prepare it in your favorite way. You can skip the wild rice if you want this to be less costly and it will still take great, but the wild rice really adds to the taste. This would make a great stuffing for duck if the butternut squash were chopped in smaller cubes. The flavors would be excellent with duck...or turkey. We had it with grilled chicken thighs and it was lovely.

Need to prep ahead? You can roast the veggie mixture in advance, keep in fridge, then warm in the microwave before mixing into the rice mixture. Both kinds of rice can be made ahead and rewarmed with about a teaspoon of water in the microwave with waxed paper over the container to keep the moisture in. Do mix up the 'dressing' at the time you are going to serve because fresh orange juice will taste fresher that way...and it matters. Pecans can be toasted ahead and kept in a airtight container.

Two Kinds of Rice with Butternut Squash and Maple
Serves 4-6

3-4 cups butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded, and cut into cubes of about an inch
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon dry thyme
1/8 teaspoon (or more if you like it spicier) cayenne pepper, ground
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh orange zest
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
2 small or 1 medium-large zucchini, ends trimmed, halved lengthwise and sliced in1/4-inch thick slices
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup cooked wild rice
1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
1/4 cup toasted pecans, broken in large pieces
1 tablespoon parsley, minced

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Place the butternut squash, olive oil, maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, thyme, cayenne pepper, ground black pepper, and orange zest into a large plastic bag (I use a clean produce bag) and shake vigorously to coat the squash in the other ingredients. Line a sheet pan with heavy duty foil and spray with spray oil (I used spray olive oil). Pour the squash mixture onto the prepared sheet pan. Let as much of the mixture as you can drip from the bag. Use the outside of the bag to pat the squash into a single layer, with the cubes separated from each other. Roast in the preheated oven for 10 minutes.

Add the sliced mushrooms and sliced zucchini to the sheet pan and use tongs or a wooden spatula to carefully mix them into the squash mixture while also turning the squash to another side. Try not to tear the foil since the coating mixture is sticky and could burn if it leaks underneath. Make sure that the mushrooms and zucchini are laying on a flat side on the surface of the sheet pan foil, then return the pan to the oven and roast another 10-15 minutes, or until butternut squash is tender.

While the squash is roasting, in a small bowl mix together the chicken broth, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.

In a large bowl place the two kinds of rice, warmed, the roasted veggies and any sauce, and the fresh orange juice dressing. Gently stir to combine. Add the toasted pecans and the minced parsley and gently stir to combine. Serve at once for warm dish, or serve at room temperature later.

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