Back on it
I have shrugged off the carelessly draped sport coat of kitchen failure tonight, I tell you. Forty-five minutes from scratch to awesome:
Roasted Butternut Squash and Rice Pilaf, with Compound Butter
serves two for dinner and planover lunch; could serve 4-6 as a side to something else
~1 medium butternut squash, unpeeled, cut in half lengthwise, with seeds and pulp scooped out
~1/2 large (or one small) white onion, diced
~1 large carrot, diced
~2 ribs celery, diced
~1/4 tsp. dried thyme
~4 whole cloves
~3/4 c. golden raisins
~3/4 to 1 c. cooked chick peas
~3/4 c. uncooked brown basmati rice
~1 1/2 c. and a splash of water
~1/4 c. toasted walnuts, chopped and divided (see below)
~salt to taste
Set oven to roast (375-400 degrees). Rub cut sides of squash with olive oil and place cut side down on an oiled rimmed baking sheet. Slip sheet into oven and ignore while you prep pilaf. Squash is done when a knife point inserted into the thick neck meets no resistance (40 min? You'll know).
In wide skillet (with a tight fitting lid) filmed with olive oil, cook onion, carrot, and celery until soft. About halfway to soft, add raisins and toss. At "soft," add thyme and cloves, stir, and cook to bloom the smells, about 1 minute. Add chick peas and rice, stir, and heat through, about 2 minutes. When the heat has come up and rice has taken up some oil from the veggies and pan, add the water and pump heat up to get to a boil. After you reach a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover with tight lid. Shake periodically to ensure that nothing sticks and that moisture moves around the pan evenly. Simmer until rice has absorbed *almost* all liquid and is cooked through (30 min? Just test it and see if it's rice or it's twigs; again, you'll know when it's done. "Doin' it all at once" tip: This is a great time to make the compound butter). Turn off heat, add 1/2 of the toasted walnuts, fluff with spoon, salt to taste, and let sit, covered, until ready to serve.
To plate and serve: slip your knife through the squash half lengthwise to create a quarter section. Place quarter section peel side down on the plate. Dish pilaf over/next to squash, all arty-like, and top with a generous dollop (about 1 T or more) of compound butter...
Shallot-Apple-Sage-Walnut Compound Butter
Soften 6 T of unsalted butter and mix the following thoroughly into it:
~1 shallot, minced
~1/2 small tart apple, peeled, very fine dice
~10-12 fresh sage leaves, minced
~1/8 c. toasted walnuts, chopped very fine
~dash white pepper
+ + +
It's got beans, rice, squash, nuts, raisin: a meal in itself, but I imagine if you swing such a way that this would just kill next to a pork chop.
Also, you all know that these recipes are just things I make up, and that substitutions are totally welcome, suggested, and occasionally required, right? I have always hated the Tyrannical Recipe idea--that one MUST have all of the components on hand before making something. There are recipes I follow to the letter, faithfully, because I can: I have a very full pantry and spice cabinet, so I have shallots, white pepper, sun dried tomatoes, miso, molasses, chipotle peppers in adobo, etc. etc. etc. etc. on hand almost all the time because stocking is a priority. But I would never not riff on a recipe if I found I was without something--better that than not making it at all. So if you don't have something, leave it out or substitute it. I find it hard to write down what I cook as dinner recipes sometimes, because I really just grab stuff and throw it in without thinking about amounts or how someone else (or myself) might re-create the dish. But I am trying to more faithfully document dinner, both for my twos and threes of readers, but for a certain true believer who wants these for an assemblage of recipes she's finding time to put together.