butternut baby


So I found this recipe via Weight Watchers Online. Despite my own misgivings, the food I’ve made from their site has often been stunning… and that’s a nice surprise, of course. This dish is hands down, one of my favourites. You don’t add a lot of herbs and spices to the dish, and yet what is there plays with the flavour of the butternut and fruit. Not too unlike a more complex red wine, each bite has a few layers of taste that your tongue processes one by one, which is actually rather exciting!

What you’ll need, keeping in mind that I’ve made substitutions for my dietary preferences, as noted

1 tsp table salt, or to taste

1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground

1 pound(s) uncooked boneless skinless chicken breast(s), four 4 oz pieces (I used Quorn chicken substitute)

3 spray(s) cooking spray

2 tsp olive oil

1 tsp ground cumin, or to taste

1 tsp ground coriander, or to taste

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, or to taste

1 large uncooked vidalia onion(s), chopped

2 cup(s) uncooked butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 3/4 lb)

3/4 cup(s) uncooked jasmine rice, or basmati rice, rinsed

16 halves dried apricot halves, roughly chopped (I used white peaches as I couldn’t find apricots. I think apricots are pretty important here, and if I had to replace them again, I’d opt for plums instead as their density is more close to the apricot)

1 1/2 cup(s) canned chicken broth, or more if needed (I used veg broth)

1/4 cup(s) cilantro, fresh, minced (This is a must-have, but if you can’t get some, use parsley, flat leaf if possible, as I have done here)


What you do:

Coat a large crock or cast iron pot with a little cooking spray; heat over medium heat.

Heat and add cumin, coriander and cinnamon; cook until fragrant, stirring constantly, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. You’ll notice that it starts to stick immediately, at this point, I added a small amount of broth so it didn’t burn. You really want some pan scrapings so don’t add too much.

Add your “meat” cook until lightly browned and remove to a plate; set aside.

Add onion and squash to pot, scraping down sides and bottom of pot to incorporate the charred spices. Cook, fruit. Pour in broth; bring to a boil for 1 minute.

Cover pot and simmer until rice and squash are tender, checking half way through to see if more broth is needed, about 20 to 25 minutes.

I added my soy chicken at the very end, to preserve the flavour and prevent it from getting soggy.

Sprinkle with cilantro before serving.

Yields about 5 servings but it depends on your appetite. I found that the rice swelled up quite a lot in the end and it was pretty heavy and filling so I didn’t eat too much.

You want to make sure you have enough broth in the pot so it’s slightly saucy, otherwise I think it will be too thick. Play with it and see what suits your taste!