Being in the UK, some of the North American 'high holidays' such as Thanksgiving tend to slip my mind in the hustle and bustle. While most shops in London already have their Christmas displays up (!!!), Canadians will be recovering from last week's feast, and are probably gearing up for Halloween. American Thanksgiving is still to come, so if you are expecting guests who do not eat turkey and stuffing, the following might be an option worth considering.
And what better way to celebrate the year's harvest by roasting some squash, and eating them in a heart-warming risotto. Squashes cook relatively quickly, so while roasting is not absolutely necessary, it concentrates the sugars and add interest to the flavour, especially if you are using pumpkins. Although, you can cook raw chunks of squash with the onion, please do not use canned pumpkin for this recipe, the flavour and colour will not suit the risotto.
Roasted Squash RisottoServes 2
1 baby pumpkin, or acorn squash
3-5 sage leaves
a few sprigs of thyme
1 branch rosemary
1 large garlic clove
200g risotto rice (or follow the package for portion size)
1 small onion
almonds or pumpkin seeds
salt and pepper
3 Tbs butter
Parmesan, pecorino, or any other hard cheese, optional
Quarter the squash, remove seeds, and peel. Cut each quarter into three to four wedges.
Place the wedges in a baking dish with the garlic clove, season with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil, and strew with the herbs, reserving 2 sage leaves for later.
Turn oven on to 180°C/350°F, and bake the squash wedges for about 30-45 minutes, or until the vegetable are just barely fork tender.
Toast the almonds or pumpkin seeds in the oven, if there is enough room, but keep a close eye on them, as they can burn quickly. When golden brown, remove from the oven ,and set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, finely chop the onion, and fry in the butter over medium heat.
Cut the remaining sage leaves into thin slivers, add to the onion, and season.
When the onions are translucent, add the rice to the pot, and stir until well coated with the butter.
Add water, one glassful at a time, stirring vigorously. Allow the rice to absorb most of the water before adding more.
Bite into a grain of rice from time to time: it is nearly ready when the grain is soft on the outside with a chalky centre.
Stir the roasted squash into the rice; it will break up into small chunk, even dissolving into the stock. If you want to keep morsels to bite into, set aside a few wedges to use as garnish.
Continue adding water by the half glassful, stirring until the rice is cooked to your liking.
Serve by sprinkling with the toasted nuts and a grating of cheese.