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Rice Pilaf with Butternut Squash and Beans

Butternut Squash Rice

“When are you going to change that cookie picture on your blog?,” a good friend of mine recently reproached me.  She is right. I have been away for too long. But my mind has always been here, really. Please bear with me as I disappear and emerge from the abyss of silence from time to time. I am not quitting blogging. I am here. Just a bit (actually a lot) slow for the myriad of reasons for which I am not going to complain. All is well and life is beautiful and colorful.

Speaking about colorful. Rice pilaf can be colorful, too. Just like in today’s recipe, in which rice is happily married with sun-bright butternut squash and pretty tiny brown beans. I’ll tell you more about this delicious rice pilaf.

This pilaf comes from Azerbaijan where it is also called balgabagli ash. Many variations of rice pilaf made with butternut squash are made across the country. Some call for butternut squash only, to mix with the rice, others take additional ingredients, such as dried beans, while others require meat for a more elaborate taste. This particular recipe comes from the regions of Balaken and Zagatala and I learned to make it from my aunt, an excellent cook of the region’s dishes.

Butternut Squash

Here the slightly sweetened butternut squash is sprinkled with dill seeds, the region’s cooking staple. You will love what the dill seeds do to the squash–lots of aroma and flavor. The meat addition is cooked separately and is either combined with the cooked rice before serving, or served separately in a bowl, to pass around. Another method to make this pilaf with meat is to arrange tender raw pieces of young lamb onto one half on the bottom of the pan along with butternut squash that takes the other half, then spoon the rice on top and steam together. This recipe is my all-time favorite.

I hope you enjoy it.

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