October 11, 2006
Monthly Mingle: Return of the Zucchini
Meeta of What’s For Lunch Honey? is the host of the Monthly Mingle which is now entering its 5th month. Previously she had given a theme and allowed the participants to pick their own ingredients, but she decided to switch it up this month. The theme is ‘Take Two’ and the rules are simple- make any dish you want but you have to use zucchini and sage, (therefore accommodating the crazy veggies). I had been looking forward to participating in the Monthly Mingle, but when the theme was announced and zucchini was one of the ingredients I decided I probably wouldn’t enter. At that point I had eaten more than my share of zucchini, and forced a great number of other people to eat the overly fertile plant. Then a couple weeks went by and I decided that the zucchini in my garden had been ignored for long enough. I walked cautiously out to check on what had happened in my absence. On the way to the zucchini patch I picked a nice butternut squash, some sage and parsley. I saw the zucchinis long before I arrived anywhere near them. I stayed well away from a zucchini that was about two and a half feet long (no lie), plucked a small and manageable zucchini from the stem and ran back to the house.
Once safely inside I set about making my zucchini and sage dish, which was actually going to be a Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto with special guests Zucchini and Sage. Risotto is not difficult to make, it’s just time consuming and requires constant attention. There’s no slacking off when risotto is on the stove. That doesn’t mean you can’t work on other things too, but you must remain in the kitchen. I managed to make chicken breasts stuffed with chorizo sausage, old cheddar and some fennel at the same time as the risotto and neither one seemed to suffer. As usual, I found a recipe that seemed alright and then made it my own. The original recipe is from the November, 2001 issue of Gourmet and is simply for Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto. My recipe subtracted some ingredients, added others and changed the proportions. I’m happy with the way mine turned out. Sage isn’t a herb I cook with very often but I should, it gave excellent flavour.
Bri’s Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto with special guests Zucchini and Sage
Active time: 35 min Start to finish: 1 1/4 hr (ideally)
1 ½ lb butternut squash
3 cups nonfat chicken broth
1 small onion, chopped
½ tablespoon unsalted butter and a drizzle of olive oil
¾ cup Arborio rice
2 cloves minced garlic
½ cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Pinch sea salt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 ½ cups grated zucchini, excess water squeezed out
Preheat oven to 450°F.
Halve squash lengthwise and seed, then cut crosswise into 1 1/2-inch-wide slices and season with salt. Roast slices, skin side down, in a shallow baking pan with a bit of water, in middle of oven until tender and golden, about 50 minutes.
Set aside 6 crescent-shaped squash slices for serving and keep warm. Cut flesh from remaining slices into 1/2-inch pieces, discarding skin.
Start risotto after squash has been roasting 40 minutes:
Bring broth to a simmer and keep at a bare simmer, covered.
Meanwhile, cook onion in butter and oil in a 4-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 6 minutes. Add rice, garlic and cook, stirring, 3 minutes.
Stir in 1/2 cup simmering broth and cook at a strong simmer, stirring frequently, until broth is absorbed. Continue simmering and adding broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and letting each addition be absorbed before adding the next, until rice is creamy-looking but still al dente (it should be the consistency of thick soup), about 18 minutes total. (There will be leftover broth.)
At the same time I briefly sautéed the grated zucchini in a separate pan. When the risotto is done, stir in squash pieces and zucchini, then stir in cheese, sage, parsley and simmer, stirring, 1 minute. (If necessary, thin risotto with some leftover broth.)
Serve risotto immediately, with reserved squash slices.
Makes about 4 large side servings.
Adapted from Gourmet, November 2001
Monthly Mingle + Risotto + Food + Recipe + Cooking