Sunday, January 4, 2009

Best Friends Forever

Have you ever had a best friend you've never met? Well, I have. Her name is Lorna Sass. If only we ever got the chance to meet, I know we'd be best friends forever and ever (and I'm talking about a friendship complete with matching necklaces, a secret language and a hidden fort). It's such a cruel fate that our paths have never crossed, because she gets me like no one else. She understands just how important a good bowl of warm oatmeal is on a cold winter morning. She embraces hominy and teff and sorghum and all the other oft-neglected grains. She even understands that wild rice is not actually a rice at all, but a member of the grass family! Sigh.

I met Lorna just this morning when I flipped open her book Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way while having my morning coffee. And, as I may have alluded to earlier, it was love at first read. Lorna, bless her soul, has traveled to the ends of the earth in order to find the best way to prepare and cook each grain as well as the tastiest accompanying flavors. I spent a dreamy hour browsing the recipe section until I found the perfect side-dish to accompany the steak that was planned for my dinner. It was delicious. Or, more specifically, it was sunny, hardy, fiery, and honeyed, topped with a spicy citrus bite. Just the type of unexpectedly sweet side-dish that should be shared with your new best friend. P.S. Lorna, if you're reading this, please do give me a call!

Wild Rice with Gingered Squash
Adapted from Whole Grains Every Day Every Way by Lorna Sass
Serves 6

1 medium butternut squash
salt to taste
1 to 2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped finely (1/8 to 1/4 cup)
2 to 3 teaspoons honey
2 cups cooked wild rice
1tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange zest

Step One. Cook the wild rice. Rinse 3/4 cup dry wild rice grains. Place the rinsed rice in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan with 1 3/4 cup water and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat, and in Lorna Sass' words, "cook until some of the rice splits open and some of the grains have 'butterflied' (split open and curled), 35 to 65 minutes." Done rice should be soft and chewy with just a hint of crunch. When the rice has finished cooking, cover it and let it stand for 5 minutes.

Step Two. Steam the squash. Peel and seed your squash before cutting it into 1 inch chunks. Pour 1 cup of water into a large, heavy saucepan. Add the salt and bring to a boil. Stir in half of the ginger. Add the squash and distribute the remaining ginger on top. Cover and cook over medium-high heat until the squash is tender, about 12-15 minutes. Check every few minutes and add boiling water, if needed to maintain the water level. When squash is tender, use a slotted spoon to transfer the squash to a serving platter and cover it so that it stays warm.

Step Three. Make the glaze. Stir 2 teaspoons of the honey into the cooking liquid, and boil over high heat until reduced and slightly syrupy, about 5 minutes. Stir in the wild rice, butter and orange zest, plus more honey, if desired. Lower the heat and simmer for another minute.

Step Four. Combine and serve! Pour the mixture over the squash, toss lightly, and serve immediately.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your kind words. So glad you are enjoying whole grains and the book. I'm vacationing on MAUI, so can't call, but let me know your address and I'll have a copy of the just-published WHOLE GRAINS FOR BUSY PEOPLE sent to you. or
    Happy Cooking! Lorna



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Adriana Willsie and Kylie Springman ©2009