Autumn Fried Rice with Chicken, Butternut Squash & Caramelized Onions

Not your typical fried rice……………. but then again, who wants typical? They do say that variety is the spice of life, right?……………..
This is a versatile, fun, innovative meal-in-one that can served as a delicious weeknight dinner or dressed up a bit for fun dinner party. It comes together quickly and much of the prep can be done ahead. I used butternut squash, caramelized onions, rotisserie chicken, arugula and dried cranberries but you can definitely make substitutions depending on your mood and the ingredients you have available.

Autumn Fried Rice would be a wonderful way to use up leftover Thanksgiving turkey, an over supply of baby spinach or perhaps another type of squash such as acorn or hubbard. You could add tiny peas, diced carrots or even toasted pecans or walnuts. I used a shower of fresh parsley as a finishing touch, but fresh basil or rosemary would be equally delicious. I guess what I’m trying to say is, “the sky’s the limit” so have fun and enjoy!

Autumn Fried Rice w/ Chicken, Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion

1 ½ cups basmati rice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter
2 medium onions, halved and sliced in about 1/4 inch slices
½ teaspoon sea salt
6 cups baby arugula, baby spinach or baby kale (if your leaves have long stems pinch off most of them)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 cups butternut squash , diced into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 1/2-3 cups cooked, diced chicken breast (I used white meat from a rotisserie chicken, but leftover turkey would also be delicious)
2 eggs, beaten
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
¼ cup fresh parsley

1. Cook the rice in plenty of salted boiling water for 10-12 minutes or until it’s tender but still has just a bit of bite (pull out a few grains at about 9-10 minutes and check). Drain and rinse with cold water. Let it sit in strainer to completely drain, then transfer to a large bowl.

2. Melt butter in a large skillet. Add olive oil, onions, brown sugar and salt. Stir to combine and cook over medium low heat until deep golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. Once onions are caramelized, add spinach or argula and stir until greens are just beginning to wilt. Remove from heat and add to rice in bowl.

3. Add olive oil to empty pan and heat for a minute or so over medium heat. Add butternut squash (or any other type of squash), sprinkle with sea salt and sauté until tender (but not mushy!) and golden, about 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionallyy. Add garlic, cooking and stirring for 30 seconds longer then add dried cranberries and chicken. Stir to combine then transfer this mixture to bowl with rice and squash.

4. Heat pan one more time, there should be enough oil from the squash, if not spray with a bit of cooking spray. When pan is hot, at eggs and let sit for about 30 seconds then start stirring until eggs are cooked and broken up into small pieces. Add eggs to rice mixture.

5. Gently stir all ingredients in bowl to combine, taste and add salt pepper to taste and sprinkle with fresh parsley. Can be warmed either in the microwave or on the stovetop or served at room temperature.

This dish can easily be made ahead and just re-warmed before serving. It almost tastes better this way as all the delicious flavors have a chance to get acquainted and become friends!

Serve 4-6

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