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tThis post, again, begins with Pinterest. I follow a few vegetarian cooking boards and they’ve actually helped me add a couple new recipes into my rotation. With the cooking rut I’m in (all creative powers being demanded elsewhere) I can use all the inspiration I can get!

My stomach growled at me as I read the recipe for Butternut Squash and Coconut Milk Rice, which blogger Tartelette says is modified from a recipe in Cooking Light 2002.

I present my further modifications here.

The first problem I ran into with making this was that it required I cook rice on the stove. I have never had to cook rice on the stove – why would anyone make something so mushy when they have perfectly functional rice cooker?* But I went ahead and did as the recipe said, boiling my rice with coconut milk and vegetable broth in one pot while cooking the onions and then the squash in another.

The end result was tasty and had a lot of potential, but took too long, ended up too mushy, and made too many pots dirty. And the squash took far longer than 10 minutes to reach an edible texture.

As I thought through the process, I realized that the one rice dish I don’t make in my rice cooker – baked mushroom risotto** – might provide an improvement to this one. That recipe uses the oven to cook the rice, rather than the stovetop, and produces rice that isn’t too mushy or stuck to the bottom of the pot.

So, with slight modifications due to ingredients I couldn’t find and flavors which the original recipe lacked, here’s my approach:

Ingredients
1 cup vegetable broth/water
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup short grain brown rice (I used organic brown rice, but I imagine other short grain or even basmati would work well. Arborio rice requires a lot more liquid, however, so be aware of that if that’s what you use.)
olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 cups cubed peeled butternut squash (although I imagine carrots might work, or perhaps other squashes)
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
salt & pepper (at least 1/2 tsp. salt, although probably more, and at least 1/2 tsp. pepper)
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans
zest and juice of one lime

Heat the oven to 300°F.

In an oven safe pot over medium heat, sauté onion, in enough olive oil, until nearly translucent and soft – add garlic and sauté another minute or so. Add cubed squash and keep stirring until squash starts to soften – 5 minutes or so. Add thyme, salt, pepper, and black beans. Stir until mixed well.

Add 1 cup brown rice. Stir until thoroughly mixed, then add coconut milk and vegetable broth. If liquid doesn’t cover mixture, add a little more, but no more than 1/4 cup (unless you want to finish the mixture on the stove for 5-10 minutes after baking).

Bring to a boil, turn off heat, cover with oven safe lid. Put it in the oven to bake for 35 minutes.

(The documentation with my cookware says it can can stand up to an hour at 350F, so I know 35 minutes at 300F is no problem. I recommend checking the specifications on your pots before using them in the oven.)

After 35 minutes, carefully remove from the oven. Let it stand uncovered for 5 minutes, or if a significant amount of liquid remains, place it over very low heat and stir to keep from sticking for about 5 minutes. Add the lime juice, and lime zest (if you really like lime!), and serve!

I’m still tweaking the recipe because it seems to be missing something, but I haven’t quite hit on what that might be. I’ll update here if I figure it out!

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*Ok, so my rice cooker isn’t actually perfectly functional. It takes about an hour to make rice but pops up to tell you it’s done after only 20 minutes. I have to pour more water into the bottom half and press the button down a second time, then leave it be after it pops up again before it will actually be cooked rice. This is a far cry better than my parents’ rice cooker, which will try to kill you if you don’t know how to use it correctly. I’ll take sloth over murder any day, thank you.

**Which is unbelievably delicious. I’m serious, I had no idea the first time I made it that it would become one of my favorite foods. If you’re at all curious, really, try it.

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