It’s not like I spend that much time driving, but I do log a solid 4 hours per week to cook for Smash in the Dirty Jers, and my productivity during that period has really skyrocketed recently. No one is more surprised by this development than me, given that my commutes earlier this fall were mostly panic-induced blurs during which I focused solely on staying alive and trying not to sweat through my shirt. Now? I’m brainstorming recipes and ideas for my future TV shows, planning all of my holiday ensembles, and mentally drafting emails, all while singing along to the only four songs that they play on Z-100. (Club goin’ UP, on a Tuesday.) It’s wild. I feel like my voice has also gotten a lot better, but that’s a subject for a different post.
My roommate thinks that I’ve probably become a much better driver, which is why I’m able to relax and have so many genius thoughts in the car these days. This is a very nice compliment, which I graciously accepted, but Logan is wrong.
I am 99% certain that I have not become a better driver. There are still plenty of people honking and flipping me off on the reg, and each time I drive through the Lincoln tunnel I come precariously close to taking out all the cones at the exit. I didn’t know until two weeks ago that you can’t turn right on red in NYC, and last Thursday I drove halfway to Hoboken with no lights on. I will obviously continue to work on my driving skills, but I don’t have high hopes for their improvement. No one in my family is a good driver. It’s genetic.
Anyhoo, distracting myself with other things (while still paying attention to the road, duh) has really helped mitigate my driving anxiety. Thinking about food and clothing is soothing, especially when I hit the “80s at 8” sweet spot on the way home. And last week, in the middle of my spirited rendition of “Little Red Corvette,” I came up with the idea for this badass Butternut Squash and Brussels Sprout Fried Rice.
I had just made 20 pounds of vegetable Pad Thai for Smash (he’s a big boy), and I thought to myself that a fall version of that Pad Thai with some winter squash and Brussels would be bomb. When I arrived home, I giddily realized that I had all the ingredients handy (fact: I eat a lot of butternut squash and Brussels sprouts), but no rice noodles. What I did have was some leftover brown rice, so fried rice seemed like an eggs-cellent experiment.
In my head, I keep calling this “fall fried rice,” and it is glorious, friends. It’s unbelievably awesome cold weather comfort food, and I’ve actually made it twice this week, which I almost never do (because I am insanely creative). Maple roasted butternut squash and earthy sautéed Brussels sprouts tossed with toasty brown rice and a ginger-soy sauce that’s kicked up with plenty of garlic and Sriracha…dear GOD. Then you top it with a runny egg and experience an explosion of sweet and savory flavors that’s guaranteed to light up your taste buds. I feel strongly about this.
And unlike most fried rice that will turn you into an Oompa-Loompa overnight, I’m thrilled to report that this stuff is actually good for you. It’s packed with fiber, carotenoids (thanks to ze butternut squash), antioxidants, and heart-healthy, immune-boosting fatty acids from the coconut oil. It’s naturally gluten-free (just use low-sodium tamari in place of soy sauce), Dude Diet-friendly, and magically vegan if you ditch the egg, so you should definitely work it into your rotation to balance things out during this boozy, sugar-filled season.
I like Butternut Squash and Brussels Sprout Fried Rice as a satisfying vegetarian meal or festive seasonal side, but feel free to give it a heartier spin with a little meat if you must. I added turkey bacon on a whim last night, and my roommate went batshit, so I’m going to go ahead and recommend trying that. Any sort of sausage would also be epic, as would chicken or pork, and I really like the idea of replacing the egg with a good piece of seared halibut or salmon. As always, you do you.
(I’m picturing all of you Reginas out there thinking, “Serena, stop trying to make “food-piphany” happen!” Long hair, don’t care.)
Butternut Squash and Brussels Sprout Fried Rice: (Serves 4)
3 cups cubed butternut squash (About 1 large squash)
3 tablespoons coconut oil, divided (Yes, you can use olive oil if you must.)
1 tablespoon good quality maple syrup
8-10 large Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced crosswise (You should have about 3 cups sliced sprouts.)
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, grated or finely minced
1 teaspoon brown sugar
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
1 tablespoon Sriracha
1 large shallot, diced
2½ cups cooked brown rice
3 scallions (white and light green parts only), thinly sliced
2 teaspoons toasted hemp or sesame seeds
4 eggs (optional)
Preparing your Butternut Squash and Brussels Sprout Fried Rice:
-Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
-Arrange your cubed butternut squash on the prepared baking sheet in an even layer. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon coconut oil and 1 tablespoon maple syrup. Toss to coat.
-In a large saucepan or wok, heat 1 tablespoon coconut oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add the sprouts and cook for 5-6 minutes until the sprouts are tender and lightly browned. Transfer the sprouts to a bowl and briefly set aside.
-If you’re serving your rice topped with fried eggs (you really should), now’s the time to cook those bad boys. I assume you know how to fry an egg, but if not, heat a tablespoon of oil in a large non-stick saucepan/skillet. Carefully add the eggs, one at a time, and cook for about 3 minutes until the whites have set, but the yolk is still runny. Immediately remove them from the pan.
-Divide the hot rice among plates/bowls.
- 3 cups cubed butternut squash (About 1 large squash)
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil, divided (Yes, you can use olive oil if you must.)
- 1 tablespoon good quality maple syrup
- 8-10 large Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced crosswise (You should have about 3 cups sliced sprouts.)
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- 2 cloves garlic, grated or finely minced
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
- 1 tablespoon Sriracha
- 1 large shallot, diced
- 2½ cups cooked brown rice
- 3 scallions (white and light green parts only), thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoons toasted hemp or sesame seeds
- 4 eggs (optional)
- Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
- Arrange your cubed butternut squash on the prepared baking sheet in an even layer. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon coconut oil and 1 tablespoon maple syrup. Toss to coat. Transfer the squash to the oven and roast for 25-30 minutes until tender, turning once halfway through. Set aside until ready to use.
- Meanwhile, slice your sprouts. In a large saucepan or wok, heat 1 tablespoon coconut oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add the sprouts and cook for 5-6 minutes until the sprouts are tender and lightly browned. Transfer the sprouts to a bowl and briefly set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine the grated ginger, garlic, brown sugar, soy sauce, and Sriracha.
- In the same saucepan/wok used for the sprouts, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon coconut oil. When hot, add the shallots and cook for 1-2 minutes until translucent. Add the rice and cook for 1 minute. Add the roasted squash and Brussels sprouts to the pan along with the soy sauce mixture, toasted hemp/sesame seeds and scallions. Cook for 1 minute more.
- If you’re serving your rice topped with fried eggs (you really should), now’s the time to cook those bad boys. I assume you know how to fry an egg, but if not, heat a tablespoon of oil in a large non-stick saucepan/skillet. Carefully add the eggs, one at a time, and cook for about 3 minutes until the whites have set, but the yolk is still runny. Immediately remove them from the pan.
- -Divide rice among bowls/plates, and top each serving with a fried egg. Serve immediately.