Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Love Dish: Brown Rice with Butternut Squash, Wild Mushrooms and Salami

Don't be fooled by the title. This love dish (i.e., a dish that take a little more time to put together than your standard quick dish) is not your typical, boring, "I guess we should use brown rice to up our fiber intake" health fare.

I buy a particular kind of long grain basmati brown rice that has a wonderfully nutty aroma and flavor and never ever gets gummy. Seriously, I actually like eating it. So when it came to what to mix in, I dug around my fridge for stuff that would work well with that nutty canvas. I knew the earthy wild mushrooms I needed to use up would pair well, plus the salty-smokiness of all things pork was a no brainer (hence the tad overzealous use of it in this recipe). Finally, to really celebrate the beginning of fall properly, I threw in some sweet and creamy roasted butternut squash for good measure.

So like I said, no boring brown rice here - we're talking serious comfort food. And if it happens to help you with your, um, regularity issues, well, that's just an added bonus.

(Note: If you wanted to turn this into a quick dish, you could always use white rice and buy one of those packages of cubed squash, but really, why spoil all the fun?)

Brown Rice with Butternut Squash, Wild Mushrooms and Salami

For the rice:
1 cup long grain basmati brown rice
2 cups water

For the rest:
1 butternut squash, about 2-3 lbs
1 tbsp olive oil
3 slices pancetta, chopped
3 shallots, sliced fine
8 ounces assorted wild mushrooms, such as shitake, crimini and oyster, cleaned and rough chopped
2-3 ounces salami, chopped into small pieces
1-2 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Grated parmesan, optional

Combine the rice and the water in a small saucepan over high heat. Bring to boil, stir once, then cover tightly and cook on very low heat for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, split the squash in half, place on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet and roast in the oven at 400 degrees for 45 minutes or until tender. Remove and let cool.

In a large saute pan, add the olive oil over medium high heat. When hot, and the chopped pancetta and let cook, stirring often, til it starts to get crisp. Add the shallots and cook until soft, about 2-3 minutes. Add the chopped mushrooms to the pan and cook until tender but still firm, about 3-4 minutes. (You can add a little more olive oil to the pan if the contents starts to look dry). Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.

When the squash is cool enough to handle, remove the skin and chop the flesh into bite-size cubes. Return the saute pan to the the stove over medium heat and add the squash, salami and rosemary; cook to heat through. Add the rice to the pan and stir to combine. Re-season with salt and pepper if necessary. Sprinkle with parsley and grated parmesan and serve.

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