Welcome to the first recipe for The Food Matters Project! Sarah and I have worked hard to make this project happen and I’m so glad we’ve finally begun. Sarah picked a gorgeous recipe to start us off—it’s vibrant, vegetarian, and strikes just the right balance between spicy and sweet—all of my favorite recipe elements in one.
By the way, The Food Matters philosophy is all about eating more plants and fewer animal products and processed foods—and the positive impact this has on our health and the environment. The project is fueled by food bloggers but everyone is welcome to cook through Mark Bittman’s The Food Matters Cookbook along with us!
Back to the recipe: I hope you’ll give this one a try. Slow roasted delicata squash, basted in an addictive chipotle and honey sauce, is delightful on its own but turns into a healthy, complete meal when served on a bed of “refried” black beans and cilantro lime rice. I improvised the black bean recipe, and the rice was inspired by aptly-named Chipotle Mexican Grill, the sustainable burrito chain we all know and love.
I raced against the setting sun to photograph this recipe late Saturday afternoon. Feeling rushed, I took several shortcuts, fortunately without undesirable consequences. I used organic canned beans instead of home-cooked beans, skipped the wooden skewers for the squash, and cooked the rice in my hand-me-down rice cooker. I hardly measured ingredients and tossed saucy spoons all over my messy kitchen counters, but the end result was a smashing success.
This recipe deconstructs well. Spiced rice and beans always make a great pair, on their own or served as sides for quesadillas, enchiladas or a baked sweet potato. Dress up rice and beans with diced avocado or a few spoonfuls of salsa for an easy meal of leftovers. To my surprise, apple slaw makes a nice relish for beans and rice as well. I’m eager to roast sweet potatoes in the chipotle and honey glaze; sweet and flavorful vegetables seem to be the best base for this sauce.
- 3 delicata squash, sliced in half lengthwise, seeds scooped out, then sliced into ½ inch arcs
- ¼ cup olive oil, plus some greasing for the pan
- 1 or 2 canned chipotle chiles, chopped, with 2 tablespoons adobo sauce
- 1 tablespoon pressed or minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Sea salt and black pepper
- 1½ cups brown basmati rice, rinsed in a fine mesh strainer
- 1 small lime, zest removed and juiced
- 1 small lemon, juiced
- loose ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1 tablespoon butter (optional but highly recommended)
- salt, to taste
- Drizzle of olive oil
- ½ white onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- 2 cans cooked black beans, drained
- ⅓ cup roasted red pepper, chopped (I used jarred)
- Sea salt and pepper, to taste
- Lime wedges
- Prep work: Heat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit for the squash. Bring a large pot of water to boil on the stove for the rice.
- Cook the squash: Grease a large rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan. Whisk together the olive oil, 1 chipotle chile, adobo sauce, garlic, honey, and some salt and pepper in a small bowl (a mortar and pestle is ideal, so you can really mash together the ingredients). Taste and add another chile if you like.
- Brush the glaze evenly over the squash skewers and roast for 45 to 60 minutes, turning once or twice and basting with any pan juices. When the squash is tender and deeply colored, remove the skewers from the oven and set aside.
- To cook the rice: Once your pot of water is boiling, pour in the rice and give it a stir. Boil the rice for 30 minutes, then turn off the heat and drain the rice. Return the rice to the pot and cover the pot. Let the rice steam for 10 minutes. Remove the lid, fluff the rice with a fork, then mix in the lime zest and juice, lemon juice, cilantro, butter and salt to taste.
- Cook the beans: In a 10-inch skillet over medium heat, sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil until fragrant. Add the cumin and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Pour in the beans and ½ cup water. Stir, cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes, then remove the lid and use the back of a fork to mash up about ½ of the beans. Add the roasted red peppers, stir, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover until you're ready to serve.
- Serve the beans on a bed of cilantro lime rice. Top with chipotle-glazed squash. Garnish with a couple of lime wedges.
Make it vegan: Use agave nectar instead of the honey.