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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

"Eat food you grow," part 7

Butternut squash risotto
with cream cheese and fresh parsley
A locavore recipe collection, inspired by the CCA Steering Committee

Part 7: The Winter Squash Variations

By Linda Felaco

Butternut squash risotto

Peeling and cut a large butternut squash or small pumpkin into slivers (the smaller the pieces, the better it will melt into the rice; if using pumpkin, see tips below for cutting and peeling). Set aside the seeds for toasting.*

To make the risotto, mince an onion and sauté it in olive oil or unsalted butter. When it has browned, remove it with a slotted spoon to a plate, leaving the drippings in the pot. 

Stir in a cup of arborio or other short-grain rice (long-grain rice will not stick together properly for risotto) and sauté it too until it becomes translucent (this will take 7-10 minutes), stirring constantly to keep it from sticking. 

Return the sautéed onion to the pot and stir in a third of a cup of room-temperature dry white or red wine (if it is cold you will shock the rice, which will flake on the outside and stay hard at the core). 

Once the wine has evaporated completely, add a ladle of simmering broth and the squash or pumpkin meat; stir in the next before all the liquid is absorbed, because if the grains get too dry they will flake. Continue cooking, stirring and adding broth as the rice absorbs it, until the rice barely reaches the al dente stage (if you want your risotto firm, add broth only after the last ladleful is fully absorbed; if you want it softer, add broth when there is still some liquid left). Stir in a tablespoon of butter, cover the risotto, and turn off the flame. Let it sit, covered, for two to three minutes, and serve.

If you want a richer risotto, stir in a quarter-cup of heavy cream in addition to the butter. Risotto with cream is called mantecato and is remarkably smooth.


After the rice has finished cooking, stir in a few tablespoons of cream cheese or ricotta cheese.

Garnish with fresh parsley and/or grated nutmeg.

Pumpkin soup

Pick a pumpkin that's nice and smooth and regularly shaped; deep grooves make it harder to peel. White pumpkins are my favorite for making the soup; turban pumpkins are also good. The soup in the photo below was made with a descendent of a white pumpkin I got at Highland Farm in Wakefield two years ago that sprouted from my compost last year.
White pumpkin soup garnished with grated nutmeg and
Parmigiano Reggiano.

Cut the pumpkin in half, setting aside the seeds for roasting,* then cut the halves into strips along the grooves and peel. (Discard the stringy stuff; you only want the meat.) Cut the peeled slices into 1-2 in. chunks and toss into soup pot.

Peel and cut 1 medium butternut squash or acorn squash (optional), 4-5 medium potatoes, and 2 or 3 medium-large onions and add to the pot along with a half-dozen peeled garlic cloves and a half-dozen bouillon cubes (or skip the bouillon and use broth in place of water).

Cover with water and boil until the whole thing is soft enough to pass through a food processor (though it's much easier if you have a hand blender and just immerse it in the soup pot). You don't want it to be too liquidy, so you may need to let it simmer for a while longer after the veggies are cooked to boil off the excess water.

Serve garnished with fresh-ground cinnamon and/or nutmeg and/or Parmigiano Reggiano.


Add broccoli, cauliflower, or other veggies of your choice before cooking.

Once the soup has finished cooking, add cream if desired, though the soup will keep longer if you add it only when you're serving it. (Without cream, the soup will keep for months in the freezer.)

Serve with shrimp, scallops, or lobster; add the cooked seafood to the hot soup before serving.
*If you're making either recipe during the winter and you use a wood stove, the seeds will toast nicely atop the stove. Make sure to salt them while they're still wet. Coarse or kosher salt works best.


In case you missed any of the previous collections:

Part 1: The Pasta-sauce Variations
Part 2: The Salad Variations
Part 3: The Quahog Variations
Part 4: The Tomatillo Variations 
Part 5: The Zucchini Variations 
Part 6: The Eggplant Variations