wild rice

My default winter squash is either kabocha or butternut. I rarely buy acorn but they were so fresh when I spotted them last week at the Alemany Farmers Market that I couldn’t resist. Plus it was a bargain: organically grown and it cost me less than a couple of bucks!

basmati and wild rice stuffed acorn squash

basmati and wild rice stuffed acorn squash

I borrowed the idea of baking and stuffing it with rice from Martha, though stuffed acorn squash is really a classic. You can check out her recipe here.

Because acorn squash is already a bit sweet I altered the way I made the rice stuffing so it would be more on the savory side with a bit of heat. For that I used sundried tomatoes, black pepper and cumin.

basmati and wild rice stuffed acorn squash

1 medium sized skin on acorn squash, halved and cleaned
½ cup wild rice, rinsed
1 cup basmati rice, rinsed
1 tsp tellicherry peppercorns
½ tsp cumin seeds
3 cloves garlic, chopped fine
¼ cup chopped white onion
3 tbsp chopped sundried tomatoes packed in oil, drained
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt to taste
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Set oven temperature to 350F.

Sprinkle some salt over inner part of acorn squash halves. Rub one tablespoon olive oil over skin and flesh. Place acorn squash in a shallow baking tray flesh side down. Wrap aluminum foil around it and bake for about one hour. Test for doneness via piercing the skin with a fork. It should slide in easily otherwise bake it for a little longer.

Place wild rice in a pressure cooker, add 2 cups of water and a sprinkle of salt, cover the pan and cook on high temperature until it starts whistling. Once it does, turn temperature down to medium and cook for 10-12 minutes. Remove from heat and let the pan rest until pressure is gone. Drain rice if any water remains in the pan. Alternatively you can just cook it on the stove top. That will take about an hour or so. Watch while it cooks because water evaporates very fast.

In large sauce pan add two tablespoons of olive oil followed by chopped onion and cook until translucent. Add cumin, garlic, bay leaf and peppercorns. Stir around for a minute, just long enough for the garlic to cook and the spices to release their flavors. Add basmati rice, salt, and 1¾ cups water. Toss to combine. Bring temperature to high, and when rice starts to boil, reduce temperature to low and cook covered for about 15-20 minutes until water has been absorbed. Add cooked wild rice, sundried tomato and finish it with a tablespoon of olive oil. Cover and let it rest for another 5-10 minutes for flavors to marry.

Remove squash halves from the oven. Slice off a bit of the bottom of each half so they lay flat on a plate. Sprinkle the inside of each acorn half with a bit of salt and pepper. Fill each with the rice mix and serve decorated with some rosemary.

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If you’re like me, and you enjoy eating rice of all kinds, try this recipe. I just stumbled upon gen-ji-mai rice mix at a local Korean supermarket and fell in love. I’ve never seen it elsewhere even though it is American-made.

Gen-Ji-Mai with olive oil, garlic and onion

Gen-Ji-Mai with olive oil, garlic and onion

Rice mixes are popular in the Korean kitchen. According to this marvelous book, Korean Cuisine: an Illustrated History by Michael J. Pettid, the story goes that shortly after rice was introduced to Korea, nobody could afford to eat it because, at the time it, was prohibitively expensive to produce. Rice could only be grown in the warm southernmost part of the country, and most of the crop was used for export. So eating white polished rice was an affair for the rich. The poor had to content themselves with mixtures of polished and unpolished rice blended with other grains such as barley, millet, sorghum and at times red beans. This is obviously a much more nutritious option than plain white rice. Because of that, and the great taste, these rice blends have been making a comeback these days. I’m hooked.

This gen-ji-mai contains brown rice, hull-less barley, rye berries, jasmine brown rice, red rice, calmati brown, black barley, long grain red rice, black rice, whole oats, brown sweet rice and wild rice. It has a wholesome, nutty flavor with a really enjoyable texture.

Gen-Ji-Mai with olive oil, garlic and onion

1 cup gen-ji-mai
1 clove garlic, mashed
½ onion, cubed
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt

Rinse rice, place in a bowl, add two cups of cold water and soak for 30 to 45 minutes. Drain. Add olive oil to a saucepan followed by onion. Sauté onion until it becomes translucent. Add rice, garlic, salt and a cup and a half of water. Bring it to a boil, stir. Reduce temperature to low and simmer lid on for about 20 minutes or until water is absorbed. Remove from heat and let rest, lid on, for about 10 minutes. Serve with a side of sautéed green leaves and/or grilled vegetables or fish.

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