Autumn Wild Rice Not-a-Recipe

Rhubarb hit me during a yoga class. Specifically, during down dog.

No, this isn’t some new yogini ritual. I’d been trying to decide what to do with some ingredients I prepared the night before: an acorn squash cut in half and baked with a little butter and brown sugar, and wild rice with toasted chopped walnuts and pecans.

I’d thrown these onto the stove/oven as a side project during a major stir-fry cooking fest to provide a running start on a future meal since both ingredients take time to cook.

I had in mind a recipe I used to make years ago that came from Bon Appetit or Gourmet or one of those other glossy full-color food porn publications. That one involved wild rice, walnuts cooked with butter and sugar, sautéed diced onions and celery, and fresh orange zest and orange juice. With a little salt and pepper, those ingredients make magic (as long as it’s fresh orange zest/juice).

My cooking dilemma: No oranges on hand and I didn’t want to make a special trip to the store for several reasons: 
  • my efforts to eat mostly local food and the lack of an orange-growing season in eastern Washington; 
  • my belief that if I’m only getting one or two things at the store it makes no sense to drive so I bike; and
  • my desire to hunker down in my home nest as the days get shorter, which short-circuits my desire to ride right past my house and keep heading uphill to the store, especially after the sweat-inducing flow class my friend Betsy teaches at Spokane Yoga Shala.
So it’s a good thing that rhubarb hit me. I knew I had a couple of small bags of rhubarb I’d blanched and thrown into the freezer earlier in the season. I also had on hand apples we picked recently at Green Bluff, red onions from the farmers’ market, and celery (not local—Sweet Husband picked it up for his killer fiery marinara sauce which is so good I won’t ever squawk about the source of any of the ingredients). Tasted in my head, the combination of tart rhubarb and snappy apples made a great complement to the rest of the ingredients.

This is a Not-a-Recipe because if you like to cook, you know how to do all these things and what proportions of ingredients you want so you’ll just take this as a jumping-off point. Basic list:
  • Wild rice (I cooked 1-1/3 c. but someone ate some of it before I got home J)
  • Walnuts and/or pecans (chopped around ¼ c. of each, toasted in pan with a little butter)
  • Red onions (or shallots or regular onions; I had somewhere around 1 c. sliced)
  • Celery (a couple of stalks diced)
  • Rhubarb (approx. 1 c. diced)
  • Apples (2 small apples diced; I don’t peel them because I like the pretty color and want the fiber and flavor)
  • Salt/pepper to taste (which I hate as an instruction in something you have to bake because how can you taste/adjust until it’s too late, but that totally works with this dish)
I sautéed the onions briefly, added the celery, then the rhubarb, then the apples. I wanted everything except the onions to still have some crunch.

I thought I’d stuff this all into the middle of the two squash halves but changed my mind, scooped out and squashed the squash, and added a dash each of cloves and nutmeg. You could go with cinnamon and ginger too (or instead) and it would make a much better food porn shot if I'd gone with the stuffed squash set-up. As my sainted father would say, it all ends up in the same place anyway.

Eaten together, this combo is autumn on a fork. But if you get hit with an orange instead of rhubarb, that’s fine too.

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