Ok, I know it might sound like kind of weird combination, but this was actually extremely delicious. The squash made this dish wonderfully creamy, and the beef added a nice contrast to the sweetness of the pumpkin and butternut. I would have used ground turkey in this if it had been available, but all I could find in the supermarket here in Swaziland was ground beef, so just use whatever you like the best. What I'm discovering here is that pumpkin is used often for savory dishes, more so than in America (where we like to bake with it but rarely see it in a stew, for instance). I love pumpkin and other types of squash, so I am enjoying that they are part of the mainstream cuisine here. I threw this mixed rice together because I happened have these ingredients on hand when I went into the kitchen last week to cook for myself, and it's a recipe I will definitely make again. If you're vegetarian, this would be delicious without the meat as well. The rosemary, thyme, and sage in the recipe complement the squash beautifully, and the recipe makes enough for two people easily, with some left over. I didn't want to stop eating this, and even the kitchen staff at the guest house gave me two thumbs up when they tried it and said unanimously, "Kumnandzi!" (which means "delicious" in siSwati).
Squash and Beef Mixed Rice
Serves 2 - 3
1 1/2 - 2 cups of cooked Jasmine rice (or your favorite type of rice)
2 tsp. vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2 cup chopped pumpkin and/or butternut squash
1 cup sliced carrots
1/2 tsp each of rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano, and basil (more to taste if desired)
3/4 pound ground beef, ground turkey, or vegan/vegetarian meat substitute
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 - 1/2 cup soy milk or soy creamer
Cook the rice as directed. Cover and set aside when done. Heat the oil in a pan and add the onion. Cook for 3 - 5 minutes until the onion is soft, then add the pumpkin, butternut squash, carrots, and spices and stir well. Cook covered over medium heat for at least 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the ground beef and continue to cook over medium-high heat, stirring often. Continue to cook until the ground meat is completely done, for at least 10 - 15 minutes. The mixture will become slightly creamy as the squash gets closer to being done. When the meat is done, test the squash to see if it is soft. If it needs more cooking time, reduce heat, add a little water, and continue to cook for another 10 - 15 minutes until the squash is very tender. When it is ready, add the soy milk for a more creamy texture, starting with 1/4 cup and adding more if necessary, and adjust seasoning as desired. When you are satisfied with the taste of the squash and beef mixture, add the cooked rice and stir well. Serve immediately.