Simple, Easy Squash Recipe with 'Forbidden' Rice

| 12/28/2010 10:36:50 AM

KC ComptonOver the weekend, I had one of my favorite kinds of days – listening to music and cooking in my warm kitchen as the cold winds snuffled around the doors and windows.

My companion for this day of delight was my New Favorite Book, The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America's Most Imaginative Chefs by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg. I love this book because it isn’t a collection of recipes, just an idea book for what flavors play well with each other – with plenty of surprise suggestions to keep it interesting. When you’ve spent as much time in the kitchen as some of us have, recipes are just guidelines anyway. I prefer jazzman Charlie Parker’s approach to cooking: “You've got to learn your instrument. Then, you practice, practice, practice. And then, when you finally get up there on the bandstand, forget all that and just wail.”

Forbidden Black Rice 

So on Sunday, I wailed in my kitchen with some organic butternut squash and fresh sausage from my friends’ farm. A friend had given me a bag of “Forbidden Rice,” lovely black rice that I assumed would cook up like any other chewy rice. (The “forbidden” label comes because apparently emperors in China used to be the only ones who could eat this beautiful rice.) So I cross-referenced to see what flavors would work with butternut squash and with wild rice. I looked in my refrigerator to see what other likely culinary suspects I could round up, I put some Maria Muldaur on iTunes and I let the jazz commence.

What I came up with was completely presentable and actually quite lovely. Thanks to the dark rice, squash, red quinoa and shitake mushrooms, it also was quite nutritious. The black rice turns dark purple when it’s cooked, and the combination of that dark blue-purple against the orange of the butternut squash is one of my favorite color combos (like mango and blueberries!). I always feel a little bad when one of my experiments turns out so well. I was only feeding myself, but I wanted to go round up some mouths to feed. So I’ll do the next best thing and share the “recipe” with you so you can replicate it if you wish.

K.C.’s Forbidden Squash 

Nebraska Dave
12/28/2010 6:30:29 PM

@K.C., your made up dish indeed sounds fit for royalty. I have no creativity when cooking with spices. My wife was like you in that she just knew what went with what. We had the most delicious dinners but they could never be duplicated but the next one was just as delicious. She was an Irish-Italian from New Jersey with a little Cherokee mixed in some where in the background. So I didn't really want to get in the way of the Irish-Italian-Cherokee while she was cooking in the kitchen or I just might come up with missing parts. She was a marvelous cook and I miss her to this day. My cooking skills have not blossomed as of yet but there's still hope. Have a great come home and flop down from work day.

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