February is almost over, but winter is still hanging on in Cleveland. There's a thick blanket of snow on the ground, and a distinct lack of good produce to be found; I've just about eaten my share of potatoes and I don't think I can bear to look at another apple. Unfortunately, the farmers market doesn't start until April -- and we won't see any local tomatoes until late May, at the earliest! What's a girl to do?
Fall back on an old favorite, butternut squash. But rather than simply roasting it, why not go for something with punch? This moroccan stew calls for almost a pantryful of spices, but they meld together in a way that makes this dish incredibly satisfying. And the colors -- the colors! They'll add a little sunshine to any overcast day.
Quinoa with Moroccan Winter Squash Stew:
(slightly modified from Bon Appetit)
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Aah, risotto. Some years back, when I was a young and naive undergraduate, I had never heard of risotto. It was a shame, really, because I love congee (perhaps the ultimate Asian comfort food) -- which is very similar, except it's a little runnier toppings go onto the finish product, instead of being mixed in at the end of cooking. Oh, it's delicious. This risotto was one of the first things Daniel cooked for me -- and I knew straight away that something special was going on.
This particular risotto is good because it's simple. Not a whole lot goes into it, but the individual flavors really come through. And don't be scared off because you've heard risotto is so time-consuming -- at the most, this recipe will take you an hour to throw together, and every minute is worth it.
Butternut Squash Risotto
1 large butternut squash (~2 lbs), peeled, seeded, chopped into 1/2" chunks
4 tbsp olive oil
6 cups vegetable broth
3 large leeks (white and pale green parts only), thinly sliced
2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tbsp chopped fresh sage
Preheat oven to 400°F. Place squash on large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss to coat. Roast until tender and beginning to brown, stirring occasionally, about 40 minutes.
Bring stock to simmer in heavy large saucepan. Reduce heat to very low; cover and keep stock warm.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in another heavy large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add leeks and sauté until soft but not brown, about 10 minutes. Add rice; stir 1 minute. Add wine and simmer until absorbed, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup hot stock; simmer until absorbed, stirring frequently. Add remaining stock 1/2 cup at a time, allowing stock to be absorbed before adding more and stirring frequently, until rice is tender and mixture is creamy, about 25 minutes longer. Add roasted squash, cream, Parmesan cheese and sage; stir until heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm.
Bon Appétit, December 1999
Serves 4 as a main course.