Butternut Squash with Black Rice


Butternut Squash with Black Rice - Linda Larsen
Butternut Squash with Black Rice.  Linda Larsen

I bought some short grain black rice from Amazon.com and for Halloween, tried to think of ways to use it. Black and orange is a classic Halloween combination, so butternut squash was the logical topping. 

Squash itself is sweet and mild, so the recipe needed something more. Caramelized onions and lots of garlic were a definite addition to the vegetable, and bacon and Parmesan cheese completed the topping. A little cream and some thyme and oregano were all this recipe needed.

Black rice, or Forbidden rice, used to be reserved for royalty in China. People could actually be sentenced to death if they stole some back then! The rice really is black, and it has a fabulous nutty flavor and slightly chewy texture. And did you know that black rice has more antioxidants than blueberries? This grain has a large amount of anthocyanins, those antioxidants that may help prevent heart disease and cancer. And it's very high in fiber too.

Combined with the squash and onions, this is a very nutritious meal that is easy to make. I used frozen cubed butternut squash, but you can certainly prepare squash from scratch. Some grocery stores offer uncooked fresh squash peeled and cut up, which definitely saves some preparation time.

All you need to serve with this simple and elegant dish for a Halloween supper is a green salad tossed with avocados, cherry tomatoes, and sliced mushrooms. A nice glass of wine is a good accompaniment.

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  • 2 cups short grain black rice
  • 4 cups water
  • 8 slices bacon
  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 (10 ounce) packages frozen cubed butternut squash (from Amazon.com)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Total Time: 60 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4

Place the rice in a heavy saucepan and add the water. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 35-45 minutes or until the rice is tender but still chewy.

Meanwhile, fry the bacon in a large skillet until crisp. Remove the bacon from the skillet and drain on paper towels; crumble and set aside.

Remove all but 1 tablespoon bacon drippings from the skillet. Add 1 tablespoon butter and the olive oil to the skillet and place over medium heat.

Add the onion and garlic. Cook and stir for 7-10 minutes or until the onion starts to caramelize.

When the rice is cooked, drain if necessary, add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, and cover. Set aside off the heat.

Microwave the butternut squash for about 4-5 minutes on high until tender. Drain and add to the onion mixture. Cook and stir for 3-4 minutes.

Add the thyme, oregano, cream, Parmesan cheese, and reserved bacon to the squash mixture and stir gently. Simmer for 3-5 minutes until slightly thickened.

Toss the rice with the melted butter and place on serving plate. Top with the squash mixture and serve.

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