Well, Halloween is finally over. Even this American holiday enthusiast is sighing with relief! Two Halloween parties later – one for adults and one for kids (fortunately alcohol was served at both) – and a mad evening of trick-or-treating in the medieval village of Valbonne, and I am ready to trade in face paints and candy for some more civilized and less ghoulish autumnal fun. But what to do with those pumpkins!!! (Besides letting them just rot at your front door until Thanksgiving – something I have been found guilty of in the past) Well here is an idea……
I apologize now if I post many butternut squash and pumpkin recipes in the coming month. But the excitement my children feel about strangers throwing lollipops and gummy bears from windows in Valbonne is surpassed only by my own excitement about these gorgeous orange vegetables. They are my Snickers Bar.
A couple of weeks ago those of us on the Cote d’Azur celebrated the Fete de la Courge in Chateauneuf de Grasse – an entire day dedicated to Pumpkin and Butternut! Our kids climbed on 2-ton gigantic squash and had their faces painted while we had the opportunity to buy everything made out of squash you could ever imagine- including lanterns! So there is no doubt, ’tis the season of squash – here in France and for my friends back home – so it only seemed right to share one of my favorite simple recipes. So if your carved pumpkins aren’t already growing beards then chop them up and make your family a lovely risotto. It may not be a chocolate bar but it tastes like Halloween….
- 4 generous cups diced butternut squash or pumpkin
- 5 cups vegetable or chicken stock
- olive oil
- salt & pepper
- 1 large onion or 8 shallots, finely chopped
- 2 galic cloves, minced
- 2 cups of risotto rice (aborio or carnaroli)
- ½ cup white wine
- 3 Tablespoons of butter
- a handful of fresh sage leaves
- a handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 1½ cups grated fresh parmesan cheese
- Preheat the oven to 200C/400F.
- Place the diced squash or pumpkin on a baking sheet or in a baking dish and toss with a swig of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and roast in the oven until soft and starting to caramelize and brown on the edges, about 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile heat the stock in a medium saucepan and keep it at a bare simmer.
- Heat a large casserole dish, frying pan or soup pot over medium heat and add a swig of olive oil. When the oil is hot but not smoking add the onion and sauté until soft, about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and stir to make sure it does not burn. Sauté 30 seconds.
- Add the rice and stir to coat well with the oil until the rice looks glistening, about 1-2 minutes. Add the wine and stir until it has been completely absorbed.
- Add one soup ladle of stock to the rice and stir, not constantly but very often, until the stock is absorbed by the rice. Add another ladleful and continue like this until the rice is tender but still al dente. You should have one ladleful of stock left by the time this happens.
- Meanwhile melt the butter in a small frying pan and when it is all melted and hot add your handful of sage leaves. Fry the sage leaves in the butter, allowing the butter to brown a little. It should smell fantastically of sage.
- When the rice is al dente stir in the last ladle of stock, the parmesan cheese, the sage butter (reserving a few leaves) and parsley and cover and allow to sit for 2 minutes.
- Remove the cover and pour the risotto into a serving bowl or individual bowls and garnish with fried sage leaves.