Discover a festive recipe from Dalida, the charming Mediterranean restaurant in the Presidio from co-chefs Sayat and Laura Ozyilmaz. With food and drinks inspired by their picturesque national park surroundings, this vibrant dish combines warming spices and fresh herbs, and is an ideal side or vegetarian main for your special gathering.
Ghapama: Rice Pilaf in Kabocha Squash
1 large kabocha or koginut squash (about 3lb)
1 pint jasmine rice (may vary depending on the volume of the squash)
½ cup mixed dried berries (we prefer currants as they disperse and pop better, but raisins, mulberries, and barberries all work)
½ cup mixed nuts (cashews, hazelnuts, pine nuts, pistachios, and walnuts are some traditional ones that go into this preparation)
2 oz finely chopped herbs (fresh tarragon, purple basil, and cilantro)
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground allspice
Pinch of ground clove
1 tsp ground black pepper
¼ oz salt
1 ½ pint water, vegetable stock, or mushroom stock (may vary depending on the volume of the squash)
¼ lb unsalted butter
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
- Before slicing into the squash, microwave it on medium heat for 3 minutes.
- Remove the top of the squash. You can trim and make the edges more visually pleasing with a peeler or a paring knife. Carve out the gills and seeds from the inside. Make sure you do not create any holes or cracks in the squash as it will become the vessel to cook the rice.
- Every squash is different. Measure the inside volume of the squash by pouring water into it. Pour the water out of the squash into a measuring pitcher. You should anticipate that the rice will double in size, so feel free to scale the amount of rice and water to fit the squash.
- Par-cook your squash in the microwave for 4-5 minutes before adding all the other ingredients. This retains the shape and structure of the squash.
- Add all the herbs and dry ingredients to the squash and mix well. Bring the water or stock to a simmer and add to the squash. Finally top with the butter.
- Cover the squash with aluminum foil making sure the top of the squash is as insulated as possible. Cook the squash in the oven for 40 minutes or until the rice and squash are both cooked.