Thanksgiving is here again, hitting in full force with chilly but sunny days, farmers markets bursting at the seams, feasts with family and friends, and that buzz in the air that reminds us of the consumerist holiday that comes after this one. Despite the confusing morality of Thanksgiving, the modern version of this holiday is one of the most enjoyable of the year for me as it focuses solely on gathering together around bountiful, colorful, delicious food. Honestly, who doesn't love to fill themselves up on good food and good people?
This year I'm going for something a lot simpler than tarts or gratins but that still packs a bit more punch than even the prettiest of salads. Wild rice gives a gloriously nutty flavor and a tantalizingly textured mouthful when rounded out with the soft sweetness of autumn squashes. Add in mung beans for protein, pomegranate arils and almonds for crunch and finish things off with a creamy, tangy, and slightly sweet tahini dressing for the perfect bite. This mixture of colors and flavors all come together with a sweet and savory ring to it that screams Thanksgiving to me, and I just can't get enough.
Remember that this recipe is merely a guideline and that if you aren't a fan of almonds you can always sub for walnuts, pine nuts, or pecans. If you hate pomegranate, try this with chopped dried apricot, raisins or cranberries instead. If you just can't stand mung beans, go for a lentil or a black bean! Take this dish (or any of my dishes) and make it your way and I guarantee you'll turn out happy.
Wild Rice with Roasted Squash and Pomegranate
Prep time: 45 minutes. Cook time: 30 minutes. Assembly: 15 minutes.
Ingredients for about 12 servings (so you can share!):
1 1/2 cups wild rice
1/2 cup mung beans
3 cups butternut squash, sliced (approximately 1 small or 1/2 large butternut)
3 cups delicata squash, sliced (approximately 2 delicata squash)
1/2 cup pomegranate arils
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1 cup chopped parsley
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp dukkah spice mix (or sub with equal parts cumin, coriander, and sesame seeds)
salt & pepper to taste
Ingredients for tahini dressing:
1/2 cup sesame tahini
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp orange syrup (or sub orange or pomegranate juice)
Preheat oven to 400*F
Rinse rice until water runs mostly clear, then cover with 3 cups water and boil for approximately 15 minutes, or until steam starts to calm down. Then turn to lowest heat setting possible and let simmer for 15 minutes or until all water is cooked off.
Rinse mung beans, cover with 1 1/2 cups water and bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer until beans are soft.
While rice and beans cooking, skin the butternut squash, remove seeds with a spoon and set aside. Cut into quarters lengthwise then slice into 1/3 inch thick slices. They will be irregular and that's OK.
Chop off ends of delicata squash then cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds and set aside. Then, with skin still on, slice into 1/3 inch thick slices.
Place butternut squash and delicata slices in a large bowl, cover in olive oil, coconut oil, spice mixture, and salt & pepper. Mix together until all squash slices are coated then pour out onto a baking sheet, ensuring that squashes are in one single layer, not piled on top of each other. This will help them to cook quickly and evenly because they have room to vent steam.
Roast squash in the oven for about 20 minutes or until they are soft enough to be poked through with a fork, with no resistance.
Put all squash seeds in a separate pan (cast iron is ideal), drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Throw this in the oven alongside the squash and let roast until some seeds are black and all seeds are crunchy, not slimy.
Let squash, rice and beans all cool while you prep the other ingredients.
Roughly chop almonds and parsley.
Once squash, rice and beans are no longer steaming, add all ingredients to a large bowl and mix thoroughly
Mix tahini dressing by adding all ingredients to a jar and stirring vigorously with a fork. Add more lemon juice if you prefer your dressing more runny.
Serve with an extra sprinkle of parsley on top and a side of roasted squash seeds!