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Butternut Squash Pilaf

Butternut Squash Pilaf

Grated butternut squash adds color and nutrients to this brown rice pilaf. Greeks like to use winter squash, especially pumpkin, to make savory and sweet pies, fritters and croquettes, casseroles and myriad other dishes with fall’s telltale vegetables, but these dishes are virtually unknown outside the country. It’s traditionally made with pumpkin, which you can use here, but since most pumpkins in the U.S. are grown for carving jack-o-lanterns (and not for cooking), we’ve modified the recipe to work with readily available butternut squash. The original dish calls for Greek pilaf rice, a short-grained, polished rice that is hard to find outside the country, so we’ve substituted instant brown rice.

2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, halved and seeded
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large red onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup instant or parboiled brown rice
1 3/4 cups water or 1 14-ounce can vegetable broth
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup chopped fennel fronds (see Ingredient Note)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch of cinnamon
Freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Grate the squash through the large holes of a box grater.

2. Heat oil in a large cast-iron or nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until soft and lightly colored, 10 to 12 minutes. Combine 2 tablespoons water and tomato paste in a small bowl and stir it into the pan. Add rice and stir to coat. Add the squash, in batches if necessary, and stir until it has reduced in volume enough so that you can cover the pan.

3. Increase the heat to medium-high, pour in 1 3/4 cups water (or broth) and wine, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, covered, stirring once or twice, until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid and the squash is tender, 25 to 30 minutes.

4. Add fennel fronds, oregano, salt, cinnamon and pepper; gently stir to combine. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Ingredient note: Fennel “fronds” are the feathery tops on fennel bulbs. Look for fresh fennel bulbs–with their fronds still attached–in the produce section. The fronds look similar to fresh dill and have a mild licorice flavor. You’ll need to buy one large or two smaller bulbs of fennel to have enough fronds to make 1/2 cup chopped.

Servings: 8, about 3/4 cup each.

Nutrition per serving: 152 calories; 6 g fat (1 g saturated fat, 4g mono unsaturated fat); 0 mg cholesterol; 21 g carbohydrates; 2 g protein; 4 g fiber; 302 mg sodium; 333 mg potassium

Nutrition bonus: Vitamin A (220% daily value), Vitamin C (30% dv).

1 1/2 Carbohydrate Servings.

Exchanges: 1 1/2 starch, 1 fat.

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4:24AM PST on Jan 18, 2011

Thanks for the article.

10:02PM PST on Dec 8, 2008

Taylor, dill is in the same family as fennel is. You can easily use that. Or, be creative and go for something in a different family. I would think that something like basil or spearmint could be used. Since carrots are also in the same family as fennel, I can see using the feathery tops of carrots instead of the fennel, too. Basically, you can try a little of one thing, and if that doesn't quite suit you, try something else the next time. Spearmint is used in other Greek recipes, so I don't think it's too far-fetched to suggest spearmint.

7:47AM PST on Dec 8, 2008

what could i use in place of the fennel? not a big fan of its flavor.

5:27PM PST on Dec 7, 2008

Butternut Squash Pilaf:
Thanks for the recipe. It looks wonderful. I think I'll try it tomorrow, with some variations.

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people are talking

very good. I do feel better when I can walk tall.and I don't mean with high heels. I cannot and wi…

t information. thank you for caring and sharing.

Great information.

Congratz! I make Vegan chili all the time+not 1 person complains about it being meatless.

Of course cats and dogs shouldn't be vegan.


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