Sunday, November 09, 2008

Brown Rice with Roasted Squash and Onions, with Herby Yogurt Dressing

It’s no use. I might as well face the facts and admit it to the world. I’m a closet vegetarian.

For so long I have been tooting the horn for pork-lovers everywhere, wrapping things in bacon and eating pork rinds with all the fat attached. I’ve revelled in the intricacies of pig’s ears and cheeks and every permutation of pork belly. I’ll eat bacon fried with sugar or crumbled in a chocolate bar. I love pork and all the wonderful adventures I have with it, from nose to curly tail. Let’s not forget that the “chicha” in Chichajo stand for chicharon – my all time favourite pork snack.

In truth, although pork is definitely my first and most passionate love, I like all kinds of meat. From land, sea, or air. I relish trying new things and I will try anything at least once...especially if it has some nice cultural or historical significance. The only things I draw the line at are things which are endangered – because really, any true consumer knows that finishing up supplies that can no longer be replaced is, for lack of a better word, quite stupid (I mean, if chocolate were running out you wouldn’t damn us all and finish it right? No, you would find a way to make more).

So, in between my undying love story with pork, and my quest to eat everything, I am sometimes (understandably) cast as a rabid carnivore. But what my friends, and myself, forget, is that “everything” includes animals and plants. There is, after all, no way somebody who eats as much as me is going to ignore a whole food group. And I don’t. A vegetable, as much as a meat, has got equal opportunities to be eaten by me.

I do love vegetables as much as I love meat, the same way I do love Jamie Oliver as much as I love Daniel Craig. Perhaps a different kind of love for each, but love nonetheless, and I am equally likely to run away with one as the other (um, I mean if I wasn’t already married to Benicio del Toro of course). AnyWAY, lately my love for veggies has been turning into a full-on infatuation for vegetarian cuisine (and yes, I do consider it a cuisine). There have been people who have actually mistaken me for vegetarian because of all my blabbing about it! I’ll probably never be a vegetarian (giving up pork is just not in the cards for me) but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the food :)

Brown Rice with Roasted Squash and Onions, with Herby Yogurt Dressing
(happily inspired by this recipe on 101 Cookbooks)

  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 200-250 gram wedge of squash, peeled and seeded
  • 3-4 small red onions
  • 2 tablespoons natural yogurt (if you have Greek or Greek-style even better!)
  • 1 teaspoon roughly chopped cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon roughly chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon chopped spring onions
  • Olive oil (1 teaspoon for the dressing, plus more for drizzling on the veggies)
  • Sea salt & freshly cracked black pepper

- Chop the squash into small cubes and set on one side of a parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt, and toss until the squash is pretty evenly coated with the oil.
- Peel and quarter the onions, and place on the other side of the baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt, and toss as with the squash.
- Roast in a 180-190C oven for about 30 minutes or until both squash and onions are soft and caramelized. You may have to flip them and toss them around once or twice so they are evenly browned. The reason I roast them on separate sides of the baking sheet is so just in case you need to take the onions out earlier you won’t be fishing for them amongst the squash cubes.
- Make the dressing while your veg are roasting. In a bowl mix the yogurt, cilantro, parsley, and spring onions with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste, stir, and set aside in the fridge.
- When the squash and onions are ready, place the rice in a bowl, top with squash and onions and a generous splodge of the dressing.
- Serves one.

In my little romance with vegetarian cooking, 101 Cookbooks is my porn, my guide, and my absolute blog-crush. What Heidi Swanson has done to this little pork-lover is nothing short of amazing. She has enthralled me with photos and recipes that make vegetarian dishes seem like a cross between Mr. Big and that Hermes bag that’s got a 5,673-person waitlist. Yup, I’m talking about longing folks, and yearning. She makes me want to eat nothing but vegetables (and nuts and grains and any mixture thereof) forever and ever. I know in my heart that that’s not going to happen, but still. Nobody has ever made me want it like that.

This dish, inspired by a Roasted Pumpkin Salad recipe at 101 Cookbooks, did not only look good, but tasted good as well. And although I’ve deviated from the original recipe, this is my humble homage to Heidi and her genius. The rice I’ve used here is local Kalinga mountain rice from the Cordillera region – a blend of five different native varieties. The rice is sourced from family farmers who still grow it according to tradition. It’s 100% whole grain and absolutely delicious. The little wedge of squash and the red onions were from my veggie basket :)

At the end of the day, you don’t have to be French to enjoy French food, and you don’t have to be vegetarian to enjoy the incredibly fresh and colourful world of vegetarian cuisine. As for me...I’m still a half-breed meat-eater, pork-lover, vegetarian-wannabe. Am I a cheat and a fink for wanting it all? I’ve decided I don’t really care...I’m just happy my veggie-self is out of the closet :)


Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

An interesting combo! Really yummy looking!



flower said...

Ill second that, got to love roasted Squash and Jamie O :D

Kalyn said...

Yes, I'm starting to suspect I might also be a closet vegetarian! Looks like a great dinner to me.

Erin said...

I love vegetarian food. I don't think you can really be well rounded culinarily speaking unless it is in your sphere. I eat tempeh and eggplant with as much gusto as I eat ham and pork belly. . . mmm. . .pork belly.

Katrina said...

That looks delicious! And coming from a non-veggie-lover like me, that says a lot! ;-)

Ipshita said...

Eating a whole lot of veggies and loving chicken isn't a conflict of interests. Here in India, being vegetarian all during the week and only indulging in meat when u go out or on weekends is so usual. just cos u love veggies doesnt mean giving up on meat. the body needs a good balance of both.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Excellent Joey! Meat & I are ok, I can enjoy it but I don't think I crave it. I guess I'm happiest with it more as a garnish or flavoring. Closet Vegetarian . . . I'm pretty happy with that.

MeetaK said...

oh Joey - this is the kind of meal that really satisfies me. i admit i am a closet vegetarian. i am not a pork lover. i eat it but my favorite meat is more on the beefy side - however if i had to choose i would most certainly take this anyday!

Freya said...

I'm a closet vegetarian too! Let's come out together!! I always choose the veggie option when I eat out and I would always cook vegetables or pasta at home rather than anything else!! Well,except chocolate.
By the way, I've meme'd you on my blog!! Sorry, I couldn't help it!!

Aran said...

this looks and sounds absolutely delicious!

Lo said...

I can totally relate to your dual love for meats/veg. I love a good veggie dish, and I find it a welcome challenge to get them to turn out as well as the meat-laden ones (after all, bacon covers a world of ills, doesn't it?)

Love this dish.

Sophie said...

I'm not a vegetarian either, but I do appreciate the beauty and flavor that veggies bring to a plate. Plus, I always feel so proud after eating a veggie-laden meal :D.

Gattina said...

I am a pork fan as well, but with this beautiful veg dish did by you, I'll make myself a closet veg, why not :)

ChichaJo said...

Hi Rosa! The combination of the soft squash and the sweet onions is delicious :)

Hi Flower! Heehee :) I couldn’t agree more!

Hi Kalyn! There are plenty of us out there! :)

Hi Erin! I hear ya! I love tofu (and anything soy actually) alongside bacon and pork rinds!

Hi Katrina! I know! If you go over to 101 Cookbooks you will see all sorts of veggie deliciousness!!!

Hi Ipshita! Balance is key...I agree! That is a great way to live :) There really shouldn’t be a conflict...wise words!

Hi Tanna! Sometimes I’m happy with too many things! Hehe ;) Maybe I should be more picky!

Hi Meeta! I felt great after eating this! It is satisfying :) I don’t know if I could get my hubby to eat all veg meals though even though he loves vegetables! (that’s why this recipe is for one)

Hi Freya! Yes, let’s!!! Problem with me is I like everything! It’s a problem for my pants as well...hahaha :) I’ll check it out!

Hi Aran! Thanks! I really enjoyed this meal :)

Hi Lo! I think you have hit upon another reason why I like trying my hand at cooking vegetarian dishes – it really is a challenge that I enjoy! :)

Hi Sophie! much as I eat and enjoy meat, I can’t deny that a colourful basket of vegetables is so much prettier than a slab of meat!

Hi Gattina! Hehe :) You and I both!

Lori said...

Just catching up on my blog reading. I love your writing, you always give me a good laugh. This dish looks amazing and has gone on my 'to make' list. I am with you on the closet vegetarian. I think that should become official terminology. :)

Lee said...

will you be a vegetarian this saturday?

kathryn said...

What a lovely, tasty, juicy meal. And I can imagine the yoghurt would just draw it all together. Great ideas.

ChichaJo said...

Hi Lori! Heehee :) Glad you enjoyed the post! Check out 101 Cookbooks for more inspiration for your closet vegetarian!

Hi Lee! No I won’t be a vegetarian this Saturday! Hahaha! Woohooo! I’m so excited!

Hi Kathryn! I really was lovely...and I owe it all to Heidi :)

[eatingclub] vancouver || js said...

Vegetables? More to eat. Why exclude a whole food group? It's more to eat. ;)

Jude said...

So that's what the chicha in your name means.. Come to think of it, this dish might benefit from a bit of that.. Or not:)

Millet said...

hi joey,
met you in cebu last saturday but i forgot to tell you how much i love your blog (i was too busy eating lechon sisig, i guess).

anyhow i'm telling you now, wishing you all the best,

ChichaJo said...

Hi JS! You got it! :)

Hi Jude! Haha! favourite bad/good habit ;)

Hi Millet!!! Oh don’t worry...we were all busy eating the lechon and the sisig and all the other bits of deliciousness! :) Thank you so much for leaving such a nice comment! I’m glad you enjoy this munting blog :)

Andrea said...

You had me laughing over the Benicio del Toro comment! We're part-time vegetarians, too. It's easy and often less expensive to cook vegetarian/vegan, so we only eat meat once or twice a week.

ChichaJo said...

Hi Andrea! What can I say? I guess I like my guys a little rough around the edges ;)

Merry said...

This recipe sounds delicious, thanks for sharing it!

I found your blog by following a link from Limes & Lycopenes, and I am enjoying my visit very much :)

ChichaJo said...

Hi Merry! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment! Glad to hear you enjoyed your visit :)

Sophie said...

Another closet veggie here! I started eating less meat for ethical and healthiness reasons but the more veggie stuff I cook the more I just love it!

Have bookmarked this recipe to try out later as it sounds fab. I'm sure it's the little touches like the yogurt dressing that really makes these kinds of dishes so I'll make sure that I make the full shebang

ChichaJo said...

Hi Sophie! I still eat meat, but I love veggies just as much :) I love this yogurt dressing and use it with lots of things, but yes, the combination here is great! Hope you like it!