Though the curries and biryanis I grew up with dominate my thinking when it comes to rice, I know it to be a versatile starch.
Here I use the rice to form a crust to hold together a roasted butternut, curried onion and feta filling with a tomato, leek and thyme sauce.
It’s a hearty meal for four and suitable for ovo-vegetarians and those on gluten-free diets.

For the rice crust:

  • 1 cup uncooked Spekko Parboiled Long Grain Rice
  • 4 cups of water
  • One Knorr veg stock pot
  • A sprig of thyme
  • 2 eggs, beaten

For the roasted butternut and pickled onion topping:

  • 700g butternut, peeled and cubed
  • 12 onions from a jar of Judy’s Curried Marinated Onions
  • 5 Tbsp (or to taste) pickling liquid from the jar of onions
  • Olive oil
  • Vinegar
  • Brown sugar
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • 3 rounds feta cheese, cubed

For the tomato and leek sauce:

  • 150g chopped leeks
  • 1 standard-sized can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • A sprig or two of thyme

For the rice crust:
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Boil the rice, water and contents of the stock pot until all the liquid has been absorbed into the rice, about 25 minutes. Remove rice from stove, allow to cool and stir in thyme leaves and eggs.
Pat mixture into a pie dish and bake for 10 minutes.

For the roasted butternut and pickled onion topping
Adjust the oven temperature to 200 degrees Celsius.
Microwave the butternut for about 3 to 4 minutes to minimise oven roasting time.
In a roasting pan, arrange the butternut and onions. Toss with the rest of the ingredients, except for the feta. Bake until the onions have softened and the butternut has just begun to brown, around 30-40 minutes. Toss the feta cubes into the mixture.

For the tomato and leek sauce:
In a pan on the hob, soften leeks with a little olive oil. Stir in chopped tomatoes and sugar, and cook until the tomatoes disintegrate. Season and at the end, stir through thyme leaves to taste.

To assemble:
Spoon sauce into the pie crust. Top with butternut and feta mixture and bake for a further 10-15 minutes.