Thursday, 7 November 2013

Totally Squashed

Risotto di Salvia, Zenzero & Pomodori Secche & Zucca al Forno
Sage, Ginger & Sun Dried Tomato Risotto with Roasted Butternut Squash

Ok, I will tell you all about this meal in just a couple of minutes- but first of all, I was just wondering where the strange, "squash", actually comes from. For us in Europe, and in England for sure, these things are just different shaped pumpkins! 
How about you, my American colleagues out there? Do you know? I am guessing that you don't! So I just looked it up and I am going to share it with you before we get down to cooking this ;-)

The word "squash" comes from the Massachuset Indian word askutasquash, meaning "eaten raw or uncooked"- although we prefer to cook our pumpkins and squashes nowadays. In any case- now you know! All I know is that this lovely little butternut squash tasted terrific this evening- especially served up with some tasty risotto! Read on my friends, read on...

I prepared the squash by cutting it in half, removing the seeds and cutting into the flesh as you can see in the pictures. I then laid a couple of sage leaves inside as well as a clove of garlic and a spring of rosemary. I then wrapped it in foil and steamed it for 10 minutes, just to get some direct heat into it whilst the oven became warm.

I then opened the foil and seasoned it with salt, pepper, a little nutmeg and a light drizzle of both lime juice and of olive oil, then returned the foil and popped it into the oven, face-down, at 350° for 30 minutes, in which time I could get busy making the risotto- which was also a very simple affair...

For the risotto, I started a little finely chopped shallot frying in a pat of butter, then added the rice- just one and a half cupfuls in this case and stirred it in so that it became lightly glazed. I then added a little finely chopped garlic, 2 finely chopped sage leaves and about 1" worth of ginger, chopped as finely as I could. Once the rice was nice and shiny and both it and the onion were becoming transparent, I deglazed the saucepan with a nice splash of white wine... hisss!

I used a vegetable broth to make this simple risotto- and yes, I used a soup-cube to make it! I could be pretentious and lie and say it HAS to be a freshly prepared broth from boiling up a selection of vegetables and all of that... but this is a weekday night, after work and I just want to eat. And I am only preparing this one portion here! So yes, be realistic, shop and cook sensibly- and "don't sweat the small stuff" ;-) 

I added the broth a ladle at a time, stirring from time to time, and after 10 minutes or so of cooking, I then added the sun-dried tomatoes, cut into thin strips and let them cook into the sauce. I didn't add them right at the beginning, as I didn't want them cook away into nothing and disintegrate- it is kinda nice to see what you are eating ;-)

At that point, I took the squash out of the oven, removed the foil, turned it back over so that the cut side was facing up, added a little more salt, pepper and nutmeg and continued roasting it whilst I got back to the rice.

After about 25 minutes of cooking, the risotto was smooth but a little dry, but this was the time for cheese first of all and then the last ladle or two of vegetable broth. So for this single serving, I would say that about 1 tablespoon of grated Parmesan was plenty. There is no need to overdo it... but at the same time, I still added a pat of butterI I then stirred everything together so that it was nice and creamy and let it sit and "rest" for 4-5 minutes... and in the meantime, flipped over the squash which was by now nice and tender and turned on the broiler for a minutes or so to make it look extra-yummy.

For novelty's sakes, I spooned the risotto into the hollowed-out end of the squash - and just had the most simple but wonderful meal! Plucking out squares of steamy, juicy, Butternut squash and running them through the creamy and rich risotto was simply fantastic as well as being fun! The sage, tomato and ginger in the risotto was a great accompaniment to the sweet and nutty squash... perfect!
Hope you give it a try and find out for yourselves!

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