Jeweled Pumpkin Rice
1 pound peeled and seeded butternut squash, cut into 1/3 inch dice
1 tsp fine sea salt
2 Tbsp olive oil
Big pinch of saffron (about 50 strands)
3 1/2 oz unsalted butter
2 1/2 inch piece of cinnamon stick
4 allspice berries, crushed
1 large or 2 medium onions, thinly sliced across the grain
1/2 oz dried barberries (or currants)
2 o shelled unsalted pistachios
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
2/3 lb basmati rice, soaked in tepid, salted water for 1 hour
16 oz vegetable stock
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Toss the diced butternut squash with half of the salt and the olive oil. Spread it in a single layer in a baking tray and roast for 30 minutes or until tender. Mix the saffron with 3 Tbsp boiling water and add 1 oz of butter, which should melt. Set aside.
Heat the remaining butter in a medium saucepan with the cinnamon and allspice until it foams, then add the onion and the remaining 1/2 tsp of salt. Fry over a medium heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally until the onion is soft and starting to color.
Add the barberries, pistachios and cardamom and cook for 10 minutes more, until the onion is golden and sweet.
Now drain the rice and add to the pan, stirring for a minute or two to coat, then pour in the stock. Taste for seasoning then scatter with the roast squash. Cover with a circle of grease-proof paper and a tight-fighting lid and cook over a high heat for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for a final 5 minutes.
Remove the lid and the grease-proof paper and drizzle with the buttery saffron water. Replace the lid and leave to rest, off the heat, for 5-10 minutes.