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Butternut Squash and Coconut Milk Rice

Butternut Squash & Coconut Milk Rice

Every year for Christmas I bake gifts for B’s family and our friends. The tradition started 10 years ago when B. and I entered stores after stores, Christmas shopping for his relatives, only to come out empty handed. What do you get the people who have everything? Homemade goodies. And tons of them. Neatly packaged in personalized boxes with pretty ribbons and paper. I go all out. They love it.

I do love to give those boxes filled with cookies, truffles, macarons, etc…but it is easy to let flours, sugar, chocolate, vanilla take over the kitchen. There are times I feel I am inhaling far more buttercream than humanly recommended. I bet some of you can relate! Baking after work also means multitasking with dinner. Clearly not the time to experiment with new or lengthy recipes so I rely on dishes which ingredient list and method I can recite as if it were poetry. Enters this rice dish.

Weekend Cooking

In the past eight years, I have probably made this dish once a month. I know….that’s a bit scary to think we ate it or some variation of it close to a hundred times. It’s that good. It’s so easy and can be adapted to all seasons that once you get the gist of it, it’s just a matter of not eating the whole thing in one sitting.

The flavors in this recipe were the main attractions for me. Coconut, squash, onion, thyme. They left me intrigued. It’s perfectly suitable for a vegetarian night. We love it simply accompanied by a poached egg on top and a slice of bread. Simple and yet full of flavors. Easy to make and easy to eat.

Veggie Box

Right now is the perfect time to use butternut or acorn squash but feel free to substitute yellow squash or eggplant. I sometimes use finely chopped purple or flat leaf kale instead. The black beans can be replaced by any other bean such as pinto or chickpeas. Rosemary can easily replace the thyme. You get it. Use the recipe as a canvas to fit your tastebuds. We love it when the temperatures drop! Hope you will too.

Butternut Squash & Coconut Milk Rice

Butternut Squash and Coconut Milk Rice, adapted from Cooking Light 2002:

1 1/4 cups vegetable broth or water
1 cup light coconut milk
1 cup short grained or basmati rice
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 stalks lemongrass, finely chopped
1 3/4 cups cubed peeled butternut squash
1 teaspoon chopped fresh (or 1/4 teaspoon dried) thyme
salt & pepper
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans (if using canned, drain & rinse them first)

zest and juice of one lime

Bring broth (or water) and coconut milk to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add rice, cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from the heat and keep warm (I just keep mine covered while I prepare the rest of the recipe).

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and lemongrass and sautee 5 minutes or until the onion becomes translucid.

Reduce heat to medium and add the squash. Cook until tender, about 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in thyme, salt, pepper and black beans. Cook 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring occasionally. Add rice to squash mixture, add the lime zest and juice and stir to combine.

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Cakebrain December 19, 2010 um 12:02 am

This looks like a very heart-warming dish! Thanks for sharing!

Rachel December 19, 2010 um 2:23 am

Wow. I have to try this!
I've made something similar with black beans and coconut milk before but this sounds much, much better. Anything with butternut squash is good. I can see why you ate this once a month!

Lisa Ho December 19, 2010 um 3:31 am

Nice simple 1 pot meal… my kind of meal

Amanda December 19, 2010 um 5:10 am

Sounds delicious and simple! I love dishes like this. Thanks for sharing.

Amber December 19, 2010 um 7:23 am

Gorgeous recipe! The look amazing.

Julie Thomson December 19, 2010 um 1:16 pm

I would have never thought of putting black beans in a dish like this…what an interesting mix of flavors. Can't wait to try it.

Megg December 19, 2010 um 1:37 pm

This sounds delicious! The coconut milk and lemongrass remind me of curry. In fact I might just have to try this with some red curry salmon.

Thanks so much for the wonderful post!

Rut December 19, 2010 um 2:37 pm

Le sue foto sono bellissime.Mi piacerebbe imparare da lei.Io scrivo per il glutenfree,mio figlio è celiaco da 5 anni.Le sue ricette mostrano ceh senza glutine non significa senza gusto.Rut

Foodelf December 19, 2010 um 3:52 pm

At first I thought it was going to be a risotto and that's the direction I'm going to take it. What a delicious combination of flavours!


Cool Chic Style Fashion December 19, 2010 um 5:36 pm

I tuoi post sono sempre una favola, bravissima ciao

Gen December 19, 2010 um 8:18 pm

Love it! Et des cadeaux gourmands pour Noël ça c'est une charmante idée!

Dina December 19, 2010 um 9:15 pm

I know what you mean about buying presents for those that have everything! I also started making and baking, and so far it has been really successful. This year everyone will be receiving an amazing selection of marmalades.

Patricia Scarpin December 19, 2010 um 10:10 pm

I love the idea of using coconut in a savory dish – that looks delicious and comforting, Helen! I would love to sit on my couch with a bowl of that rice to watch my favorite TV shows. Yum!

christelle is flabbergasting December 20, 2010 um 1:58 am

C'est drôle, les ingrédients de ta recette rappellent ceux de la soupe Laska que nous avons préparé avec d'autres blogueuses, mais en d'autres proportions ! Du coup, j'ai très envie de tester ça : j'aime tellement les saveurs coco/ lime… Tu devrais essayer en ajoutant des feuilles de keffir: la saveur qu'elles donnent à ce genre de plat est divine !

Unknown December 20, 2010 um 2:45 am

Oh wow, that looks wonderful.

Helene December 20, 2010 um 4:24 am

Christelle: can't do Keffir, husband is allergic but that's a tasty idea.

dining tables December 20, 2010 um 6:01 am

I like to try this one. Very healthy and the colors are so nice together!

retro sweets December 20, 2010 um 9:37 am

Yes, in the past I have trouble giving gifts with people who have everything too! But it was a blessing in disguise to have them in my circle of friends because they challenged my home-made presents making skills. Ah, this dish is indeed perfect.

Sara December 20, 2010 um 6:31 pm

I love giving away homemade goodies for the holidays! One year, however, I really made a big mistake: without thinking, I gave a tin of chocolate-covered peanut butter balls to a coworker for Secret Santa. The next day, I realized I had no idea if anyone in his family had peanut allergies! Luckily for all of us, no one did and they were able to enjoy the holiday confections.

This time of year, I tend to eat lots of sandwiches and leftovers from the freezer – my kitchen is taken over by frosting hardening on cookies, and candy that needs to set!

Radhika @ foodfor7stages December 20, 2010 um 8:07 pm

Love that box with fresh vegetables.

And that bowl of rice is something I would want to eat now.

Kimberley December 20, 2010 um 8:21 pm

I believe that you just summed up this holiday-baking season perfectly: inhaling more buttercream than recommended. Yes. I am ducking out of sugar overload by doing the same with simple, lovely recipes. I may not get to make this before Christmas but it's going on my short list.

Mackenzie@The Caramel Cookie December 20, 2010 um 11:34 pm

Yum! Look so comforting and delicious! A much needed dish after waaaay too many Christmas cookies :).

Unknown December 21, 2010 um 1:42 am

I made this for dinner tonight — it was delicious! Thanks!

Susan December 21, 2010 um 2:54 pm

The color added by the squash and the creamy sweet coconut milk pushes this recipe up on the priority cooking list for Christmas week

La Cuisine d'Helene December 21, 2010 um 4:58 pm

I've never seen that Cooking Light recipe. I'll have to give it a try. Sounds delicious.

Alice Olive December 21, 2010 um 6:04 pm

Looks and sounds divine – thank you for sharing!

Helene December 21, 2010 um 9:36 pm

Helene: you can search it under Caribbean dishes.

Alison December 21, 2010 um 10:32 pm

Beautiful photography, and very interesting ingredients. I am eager to try this recipe!

[email protected] December 22, 2010 um 1:57 am

It is wonderful how many ways we can adapt this coconut milk rice. I love adaptive cooking – using seasonal ingredients that we have on hand & not being forced into measurements or precise ingredients. Looks like the perfect meal for meatless Monday – or any time at all 🙂 XO

Unknown December 22, 2010 um 6:30 am

mmm, love butternut squash! i take a similar rice/squash dish, throw in chicken-apple sausage and my carnivorous boys are happy! (otherwise they look around the table, thinking I forgot the main course 🙂 )

Louise @ Kitchen Fiddler December 24, 2010 um 3:18 pm

Beautiful post, as always! As one whose kitchen has been entirely overtaken by truffle-making this month, I'm seriously craving savory foods that are comforting yet healthy. I may have to push all of the chocolate aside to try this recipe soon!

Kat February 24, 2011 um 12:00 am

I have a new found love for cooking and an older love for photography. And I'm cooking this dish right now! 🙂

Adam September 17, 2011 um 12:52 pm

Both Joanne and I love coconut milk and we never thought to pair it with butternut squash! YUM!

Miriam @ Sometimes I Veg February 4, 2012 um 10:53 am

This looks absolutely fantastic. I had been looking for a use for lemongrass since finding some at the store the other day.

Kelly @ May 4, 2013 um 1:13 pm

Oh wow, this does look delicious! I just pinned it and will definitely be trying it out 🙂

~Michelle November 9, 2013 um 8:47 pm

Am excited to try this recipe!

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