Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Lil' Squashes Stuffed with Soy-Maple Rice & Fall Vegetables


So, fall is officially here. My housemate and I went in on a CSA together, except that he is never really around... so I have been left with a box of CSA veggies all to my self each week. Ya, horrible, rite? rite?! Srsly, thou. I mean, seriously. I do have an excess of vegetables, and a need to use them. However I have also swore that I was going to go through my pantry and not buy anything new, like, anything. So how do I continue to improve my recipe mental rolodex and not spend any money? Ah, the concept recipe. To clarify, concept recipes are ideas that are not detail oriented. They are not baking, or steeped in French cooking science. They are ideas, like "winter vegetable soup," "X vegetable stirfry," "garden salad," etc. They are fantastic for the changing seasons, as you can often adapt the recipes to fit what is seasonally appropriate.

So, today's concept? Stuffed squash. The no-pantry thing is working out quite well, as I have been trying to following more of a whole foods/macrobiotic lifestyle. So this basically means I need to keep baking and desserts on the down-low. So far it has been going tastily. Not amazingly photogenic (or I was not in the mood to make it such), but wholesome good things. As this is a concept recipe I am going to emphasize that you feel free to substitute things. Don't have celery? Use parsley. Only have two carrots? That is fine. Use quinoa instead of brown rice, etc. etc. Really, this works even if you have leftover grains or some stirfry sitting in your fridge, ignored. However, this is how I threw it down...

Lil' Squashes Stuffed with Soy-Maple Rice & Fall Vegetables

4 small squash (I used butternut and acorn), halved lengthwise and seeded
Canola oil for greasing the pans
Salt n' Pepper
2 cups uncooked short-grain brown rice, rinsed (ideally, soak over night)
3 cups water
1 large red onion, diced
1 celary heart, chopped
2 (very) small leeks, chopped
3 carrots, cut into half-moons
2 T fresh oregano, chopped
2 T maple syrup
1/4 C wheat-free soy sauce (or more to flavor)
1 C raisins

1 cup toasted nuts of choice (I used pepitas, toasted in sesame oil and salt)

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place squash cut-side up, brush or spray tops with oil. If you can't prop the squash up, cut a thin slice off the curved bottoms so they do not tip over. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 45 minutes or until tender. Keep them warm.

While the squashes are roasting, combine the water, rice, and a teaspoon of salt. Cover. Bring to a boil, decrease heat to medium low, and simmer until the rice is tender. If there is any water left, drain it out.

While the rice is cooking, sautee the vegetables in a large, heavy skillet, or two. If you want to be particular, you can sautee the vegetables up seperately. I cooked my carrots seperate from my onions and celery. This step is not necessary, but nice to do if you have the time (which I did). More importantly, I had two burners free. Sautee until tender. If you cooked the vegetables seperately, combine them now, stir in the soy sauce, maple syrup, raisins, and basil, then add the rice. Stir, salt and pepper to taste.

Divide the rice mixture evenly between the squashes, sprinkle with the nuts, and serve.

*to toast the pepitas: heat a heavy bottomed pan to medium-high heat, douse with oil, toss seeds in, sprinkle with salt, and shake around until they start to turn brown.

Other item of note, I am reading "In Defense of Food," and just found out that according to Paul Rozen, a psychologist@UPenn, a third of Americans believe that a diet absolutely free of fat would be better for us than a diet containing even just "a pinch" of fat.

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