Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Baked Acorn Squash with Chipotle Rice & Beans (vegan)



Acorn squash has a nutty flavor that pairs wonderfully with the smoky flavor of the chipotle pepper, making this a perfect dish for winter.

INGREDIENTS
½ cup brown basmati rice
1 cup water
15 oz cooked black beans, drained
15 oz cooked garbanzo beans (chick peas), drained
1 dried chipotle pepper
1 tsp cayenne pepper
pinch sea salt
2 acorn squash
1 ½ tbsp EVOO
1tbsp raw granulated sugar
½ cup shredded coconut, unsweetened

QUICK AND DIRTY

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Combine ½ cup brown basmati rice with 1 c water and ½ tbsp EVOO. Chop 1 dried chipotle pepper very fine and add to rice. Add 1 tsp cayenne pepper. Turn heat on high and bring to a boil. Stir, cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 50 minutes. Set aside covered for 5-10 minutes.

Cut acorn squash in half and remove seeds. Brush with 1 tbsp EVOO. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp raw granulated sugar, and place in 450-degree oven – bake for 40 minutes. Remove, and cool on a rack for 10 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

When squash is cool to the touch, scoop the flesh out with a spoon. Mash with the tiniest pinch of sea salt, and place in bottom of a baking dish.

Combine rice, black beans, and garbanzo beans. Spread over squash. Top with shredded coconut, and place in 350-degree oven for 20-30 minutes or until coconut is toasted but not burnt.

Remove and cool for 5 minutes before serving.



ROOKIE COOKIES

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

How to cook rice:

You don’t need a fancy Hello Kitty rice cooker to cook rice – it’s just as easy to prepare it on the stove, but there are a few things to keep in mind when cooking rice:

1. In general, the proportions for cooking most rice are 1 part rice to 2 parts water (or broth). If you want to end up with 1-1½ cups of rice, you will cook ½ cup rice in 1 cup liquid.

2. Always add a little fat, preferably EVOO, so the rice doesn’t stick to itself or the bottom of the pot (which will cause it to burn into a pot-shaped plastic-looking mess).

3. The most important thing to remember with cooking rice is that once you put the lid on the pot, don’t you dare take it off until the timer goes off! Removing the lid releases steam, which would have otherwise absorbed into your rice, making your rice hard – and if you remove the lid more than once accidentally, the rice simply won’t cook. DON’T TOUCH THE TRIM! And by “trim”, I mean lid.

Combine ½ cup brown basmati rice with 1 c water and ½ tbsp EVOO. Chop 1 dried chipotle pepper very fine and add to rice. Add 1 tsp cayenne pepper. Turn heat on high and bring to a boil. Stir, cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 50 minutes. Set aside covered for 5-10 minutes.



How to prepare acorn squash:

Squash can be intimidating, but it’s a wonderfully fleshy vegetable that’s hearty and can be prepared many ways and take on many textures. When preparing to bake acorn squash, you need the right tools:

1. A large, sharp chef’s knife; and

2. A spoon

**Read this part first to learn how to cut squash, but perform the actions in the paragraph below this one first.** Squash is hard, and when attempting to cut a squash in half for the first time, you may swear you’ve stuck your knife into a rock. Instead of sawing back and forth, it’s easiest to wiggle the knife in the center (separating the squash horizontally) and then apply pressure downward in a swift motion to make a clean cut, separating the squash in half.

Prior to cutting the squash in half, you’re going to want to slice a thin amount of the squash off at each of pole so that when you are laying the halved squash on the baking sheet it sits still and doesn’t roll around (think of the stem as the North Pole).



When squash is cut, remove seeds with a spoon.



Cut acorn squash in half and remove seeds. Brush with 1 tbsp EVOO. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp raw granulated sugar, and place in 450-degree oven – bake for 40 minutes.



Remove, and cool on a rack for 10 minutes.



Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

When squash is cool to the touch, scoop the flesh out with a spoon. Mash with the tiniest pinch of sea salt, and place in bottom of a baking dish.



Combine rice, black beans, and garbanzo beans. Spread over squash. Top with shredded coconut, and place in 350-degree oven for 20-30 minutes or until coconut is toasted but not burnt.

Remove and cool for 5 minutes before serving.

TIPS & JUSTIFICATIONS
I’ve been playing around with several incarnations of this recipe for the past two years. The first incarnation of this recipe was stuffed acorn squash with black beans and rice that I made for Thanksgiving when I was hosting several vegetarians and a vegan. In that version, after baked, the squash is left intact, stuffed with a mixture of red beans and rice, and baked again.

This recipe is vegan as it’s listed, but it can be done in many different ways, including a favorite of mine where you swap out the current acorn “wash” (raw granulated sugar and EVOO) for butter and honey. Mmmm…

Acorn squash has a nutty flavor that pairs wonderfully with the smoky flavor of the chipotle pepper, making this a perfect dish for winter. You can also make this recipe without the chipotle pepper, or you can play around with different types of peppers. You can also try different types of squash. Be creative!

2 comments:

  1. Yes! This recipe has everything I love. Coconut, how interesting. Does the squash "crust" become crunchy at all? Or does it stay soft?

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  2. I baked the entire thing at 350 for 30 minutes and the top (coconut and rice mix) were a bit crunchy. Coconut burns easily, but it adds a unique flavor. If you want the top to get really crispy (like I do when I make stuffed squash), skip the coconut and go for 45-minutes of baking time :)

    This morning I was also considering how a layer of hummus would be between the squash and rice/bean mixture. I think it would be awesome!

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