Pumpkin Arroz Tapado

Recipe and photo contributed by Morena Escardó Yield:  4 servings
Prep Time:  30 minutes Cook Time:  30 minutes

Pumpkin Arroz Tapado

Arroz tapado means “covered rice,” alluding to the way in which a layer of rice is covered with a layer of filling, and then topped with a second layer of rice. The best way to describe this dish is as a simple rice terrine that can be assembled in less than a minute. The traditional arroz tapado is made with white rice, and filled with a minced meat, black olive, raisin, and hard boiled egg stuffing, which is also used to make the famous papas rellenas (stuffed potatoes). Both these recipes are the result of the Arabic influence in Peruvian cuisine. This is a seasonal vegetarian version of this entrée.—Morena Escardó

Ingredients

1½ cups brown basmati rice

2 teaspoons salt, divided

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

½ white onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 cups (8 ounces) cubed sugar pumpkin (see Kitchen Tip and Note from the Test Kitchen)

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 cups Roasted Vegetable Stock or low-sodium, store-bought vegetable stock

½ cup frozen peas

½ cup cubed goat cheese

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

Instructions

  1. Put the rice in a small pan and cover with 4 cups water and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Bring to a boil, cover partially (see Kitchen Tip), reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook for 30 minutes, or until al dente (cooked but not mushy). If there is any water left in the pan, strain with a fine-mesh sieve. Transfer back to the pan and cover.
  2. While the rice is cooking, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion and garlic, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes, or until slightly golden, Add the pumpkin, the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, the black pepper, and cayenne pepper, and stir well, making sure all the pumpkin is covered in oil.
  3. Pour the vegetable stock over the pumpkin, bring to a boil, partially cover, and cook for 20 minutes, or until the pumpkin is soft.
  4. Turn off the heat, add the peas, stir once, and let the heat of the stew cook them for a couple minutes.
  5. Right before serving, add the cheese and chopped parsley, stirring once.
  6. To assemble the arroz tapado, make a layer of rice at the bottom of an oiled cup, pressing with a teaspoon to make it compact and flat. Add a similar layer of pumpkin stew (without liquid), and then a third layer of rice, pressing with a teaspoon. The content should fill the cup completely.
  7. Place a small plate over the cup, and turn it upside down, pressing them against each other as you do it. Tap the top and sides of the cup carefully but firmly a few times before lifting it slowly to reveal the molded rice and stew.
  8. Clean and oil the cup each time you assemble a new portion of arroz tapado.

Kitchen Tips

  1. For a more authentic Peruvian taste, use ají amarillo paste instead of cayenne pepper. You can buy this online, or at Latin American grocery stores.
  2. Use any kind of squash you want, or even sweet potato to make the filling. You can also mix golden beets into it. The theme here is sweet autumn vegetables.
  3. If you want to make this dish vegan, you can use cubed tofu instead of cheese.
  4. There’s no easy way to peel a raw pumpkin, so buy it already peeled and even cubed if you want to save time.

Notes from the Test Kitchen:

  1. If you cannot locate pumpkin, you can substitute butternut or kabocha squash.
  2. Save any leftover pumpkin and roast it, tossed with a little olive oil and if you wish, the spices of your choice, to make a seasonal side dish. Or add chunks to a vegetable soup and cook until softened.
  3. The easiest way to partially cover a cooking pot is to place a lid on it and cock it to one side, so that an inch or more of the surface of the food is exposed.

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