This Smashed Butternut and Rice dish is gluten free, can be made ahead of time, and pairs up nicely with grilled and roasted meats, such as pork loin. Vegetarians can eat this as a main dish. Aromatic, slightly sweet, with just a hint of warm and earthy spices, you’ll be wanting to sneak some of this Smashed Butternut and Rice out of the fridge later to eat. That’s totally fine too, because this dish is flexible enough to also be served as sort of a cold grain salad.
I’ll say right up front that you’ll find this recipe for Smashed Butternut and Rice to be WAAAYYY easier if you’ll microwave the butternut squash whole, without cutting it.
Start with a medium to large butternut squash. For this recipe, one that weighs between three and four pounds should work just fine.
Before microwaving the butternut squash, you should carefully pierce it about 15 times all over. Be sure to pierce all the way down to the squash’s seed cavity. This is to release steam that would otherwise build up inside and possibly (probably?) cause the squash to explode while being microwaved.
Then place the pierced butternut squash on a microwave safe dish and place uncovered in your microwave oven. I cooked this medium squash in my 1000 watt microwave on medium high for 25 minutes. You may need to adjust your times, depending on the wattage of your microwave. Notice how juices are released from the slits earlier made.
The idea is to cook the butternut squash until it’s super soft. The outer skin should be blistered and cracked, and the whole thing should be limp and oozing.
Wait a few minutes to let the squash cool a little, and then you should be able to easily cut through it with a butter knife. If not, microwave the squash for a few more minutes.
Then the seeds from the cavity can easily be scooped out, and the peel comes right off. I call this “smashed” butternut, because it’s so soft and naturally falls apart when removing the peel. That’s okay, because that’s the consistency you want for this Smashed Butternut and Rice recipe.
While your butternut squash is cooking in the microwave, you can have your wild rice and white rice cooking, if you don’t already have them cooked. I like to add a few tablespoons of the hot water from the cooking wild rice to the dried cranberries (you can use Craisins too) to plump them up some, for about five minutes.
Just mix those prepared four main ingredients together with a little brown sugar, spices, salt and pepper, and you’ve got a dish you can brag about! The recipe below includes 1/4 teaspoon each of ground ginger and garam masala. Garam masala in Indian just means warm spices, and I really like how it adds just the tiniest hint of Indian to this dish. You can make your own garam masala, as I did, with recipes such as this and this. Don’t have or like Indian spices? Not a problem. This Smashed Butternut with Rice also would be marvelous with a bit of nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice and/or cloves. I only used 1/4 teaspoon of each spice, and because these main ingredients have rather subtle flavors, that little bit of spice goes a long way, so take care not to add too much.
Refrigerate any leftovers and don’t be afraid to try this Smashed Butternut and Rice cold the next day. Or reheat it and it’s also delicious. I hope you’ll try this recipe—it’s wonderful! Here are the printable details:
- One whole butternut squash, about 3 to 4 pounds
- ⅓ cup uncooked wild rice
- 1 and ½ cup cooked white rice
- ⅓ cup dried cranberries (or Craisins)
- 1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon each dried ground ginger and garam masala (other good spice substitutions include cinnamon, cardamom, curry, allspice, and/or netmeg. Whichever spice you use, keep total spices to no more than ½ teaspoon)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Start cooking wild rice according to directions.
- If you don't already have white rice cooked, then also start cooking it according to directions.
- Meanwhile, carefully cut about 15 slits into butternut squash, pushing the knife deep enough to reach the inner seed cavity of the squash.
- Place squash on microwave safe dish and cook uncovered on medium high for 25 minutes until squash skin is blistered and cracked and entire squash is super soft.
- Before wild rice is finished and drained, spoon a little of the boiling water from pan and pour over dried cranberries, to plump them. Drain cranberries after about five minutes.
- Drain wild rice and set aside.
- Remove cooked butternut squash from microwave and cool slightly.
- Cut butternut squash (it should cut easily with a butter knife), remove seeds from cavity, and remove peel.
- Place loose chunks of squash in large bowl and combine with cooked wild rice, white rice,and dried cranberries, brown sugar and spices. Gently smash any bigger chunks of squash so that ingredients are fully incorporated.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold.
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