Fall Is Here-
Its Fall at The Copper Table, and I couldn’t be more excited! It was off to the Pumpkin Patch this weekend for myself and the family. My little one is just old enough now to get excited about things. I really thought we were going to have to buy a hundred pounds worth of pumpkins, he wanted them ALL in the wheelbarrow. I knew I wanted to try working with something I had never cooked with before. After some searching I found a squash called sweet meat. I wanted to do something that was a departure from soup, and this Risotto with Sweet Meat Squash was born.
Sweet Meat Squash
While I was there, I decided to pick up a few less frequently used types of squash. I really love trying new things when I can. This farm always has the best selection of squash, varieties I can’t find elsewhere. They had Sweet Meat Squash, which is one that I had not used before. They are a beautiful shade of bluish green, with a bright orange flesh that is very sweet when roasted. It is starchy enough to stand in for mashed potatoes. There are so many great squash varieties that don’t get their turn in the spotlight. That’s what this recipe is all about. Creamy, stick-to-your-ribs risotto cooked in scratch made vegetable stock, with the addition of roasted sweet meat squash, heavy cream, salty parmesan cheese, and fresh herbs, its a Meatless Monday match made in heaven.
This risotto reheats well, so if needed make it ahead and heat it up for dinner one evening during the week. Or, roast your squash ahead of time and have it in the refrigerator ready to add. I love the earthy flavor of sage, and I have chosen to utilize both its dried and fresh forms for this recipe. While sage can sometimes overpower a dish, the other flavor profiles balance it nicely here. I made my own vegetable stock, but a store bought variety is fine for this recipe.
Stir, Stir, Stir
I think many people are turned off by the idea of cooking risotto because of all the stirring involved. That is actually my favorite part. Its a chance to zone out for a little bit, and get away from the hectic pace life can often throw at us. Stirring risotto is a great way to think about something other than that crazy day at the office, or chasing the kids around. This meal is so rewarding after a long day, and I hope you’ll treat yourself to it. There are few things in life better than a meal you cook for yourself and those you love, and its worth the little bit of time it takes.
- 1 Large Sweet Meat Squash, (about 5 pounds)
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1/4 tsp Pepper
- 6 Cups Chicken or Vegetable Stock
- 6 Leaves Fresh Sage
- 2 Bay Leaves Fresh or Dried
- 1 Sprig Fresh Thyme
- 2 tbsp Butter
- 1/2 Cup Onion, Chopped
- 2 Cups Arborio Rice
- 1/4 Cup Dry White Wine
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1/2 tsp Pepper
- 1 tsp Dried Sage
- 4 tbsp Heavy Cream
- 1/3 Cup Parmesan Cheese, Grated
- Heat oven to 425 degrees. Cut Sweet Meat Squash in half. Remove seeds from half the squash, and store the other half in the refrigerator for later use. Cut squash into 3-4 inch wedges, and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until a fork pierces easily through the thickest part of the squash. Cut the skin from squash, and place squash in a bowl, and mash until smooth. You should have two cups or more of puree. If you have more than two cups, refrigerate excess for another use.
- In a large saucepan, place 6 cups of stock, two bay leaves, thyme sprig, and two of the sage leaves and bring to a low simmer.
- Heat a large enameled dutch oven or other heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Add 2 tbsp butter and 1/2 cup chopped onion, and cook until the onion is translucent, about five minutes. Add 2 cups rice and stir for about two minutes, allowing the rice to absorb the butter. Then add 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, and 1/4 cup white wine and stir until the wine begins to absorb.
- Then, using a large soup ladle, add about one ladle of broth to the rice at a time from the saucepan, stirring with each addition until liquid is absorbed and rice is soft and creamy. As you add the broth, be sure to maintain a low simmer as it cooks, adjusting the heat slightly up or down if needed. The risotto should not be gummy, but it should be a creamy consistency and easily coat the back of a spoon. This process should take about 20-25 minutes.
- When the rice is finished cooking, remove from heat and add 4 tbsp cream and 1 tsp dried sage to the squash, then add squash mixture to the risotto, stirring thoroughly. Add parmesan cheese, and chop and add the four remaining fresh sage leaves, stir to incorporate, and serve.
If you want to reduce prep and cook time, you can roast the squash ahead of time and store it for three days in the fridge, or a week in the freezer. If you freeze your squash, be sure to drain off the excess liquid after it is defrosted.