Thursday, 23 October 2014

All Squashed-Up!

Zucca Arrostita con Riso Nero, peperone & Paprika Affumicata
Roasted Butternut Squash with Black Rice, Peppers & Smoked Paprika


This was a day that demanded some kind of reward by the time I made my way back home and was able to fix some supper- it was one of those days where it seemed that everything that COULD go wrong, DID go wrong. But making myself something good to eat made things feel a little better... it always does!

What I decided to make was a small, butternut squash, which I gather is one of the favorite and most preferred varieties in the USA... and I have to say that now I understand why! Here in Germany, we tend to love the Hokkaido pumpkins as they are so tasty, colorful... and don't need peeling... but you know- these Butternuts do give them quite a run for their money!


I decided to pair mine with some deliciously "nutty" tasting black rice- more chewy and flavorful by far than regular white rice- and do you know what? Although the thought had really not crossed my mind as I made it... this would make a pretty awesome Halloween party dish! Even though the only thing about it that is scary is how frighteningly good it tastes!


Just 1 small butternut squash, 1 cup of rice, 2 very small peppers in red and yellow, a little parsley, a little time, about 2" of fresh ginger, 1 shallot and about 2 tablespoons of smoked paprika powder were all I needed to make 2 modest, yet filling portions.


It took me just a little longer than half an hour to make this- maybe 45 minutes to cover the nominal prep-work and time to serve it... which is practically no time at all really! Such a fun dish as well as being to pretty and tasty too- I think this is really one that you might want to try out soon!


The ingredients for the flavoring of the rice need to be diced as finely as possible, ready to sizzle together in a little oil...


I began by halving the squash, scooping out the seeds and scoring the flesh with deep, diagonal cuts, before rubbing it with olive oil, seasoning generously with salt and freshly ground pepper, and then baking, with the cut surface facing upwards, in a preheated oven at 200°C for 25-30 minutes.


In the meantime, I popped the rice into a saucepan to boil for 25-30 minutes too and in the meantime I finely chopped the peppers, the shallot and the ginger, ready to prepare them so that they would be ready to add to the rice at the end. I fried them all together, with a little olive oil and seasoned them with salt, pepper, a little nutmeg and a pinch of cayenne. As soon as the shallot had become translucent and then begun to turn brown around the edges, I turned off the heat and let them sit and rest... whilst I got busy finely chopping the parsley and plucking 3-4 sprigs of thyme, ready for my garnish later.


After 30 minutes, both the squash and the rice were ready- which was really good as I was beginning to get really hungry- and especially so after I took-in the wonderful aromas! The rice was now tender and chewy, with a red-black hue to it and just begging to have those colorful peppers, the fresh parsley and the smoked paprika powder added... and as soon as they were mixed together well, it was ready to be filled into the hollows in the squash halves and to be served!


I scattered them with plenty of fresh thyme and a added a good, extra sprinkle of smoked paprika powder and enjoyed them steaming hot and scrumptiously smooth and delicious- perfect in combination with the nutty and chewy rice! People- you need to make this! Try it by Halloween at the latest- and enjoy!


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