Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Roasted Acorn Squash Stuffed with Mushroom Risotto

This dish has Fall written all over it: creamy risotto with earthy mushrooms, crispy and salty toasted squash seeds, and an edible bowl of sweet, roasted vegetable goodness.

Total time: about an hour
Makes 4 servings

2 acorn squashes, 2 lbs each
6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
8 oz mushrooms of choice, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 C Arborio rice
1/2 C dry white wine or sherry
4 C light chicken or vegetable stock, kept warm on the stove
3 tsp kosher salt, divided
freshly ground black pepper
2 oz ricotta salata, crumbled

Preheat the oven to 425F with a rack in the middle position. Cut the acorn squashes in half lengthwise (you might have to microwave them for a minute to soften them up enough to get your knife through). Scoop out the squash guts and seeds and remove as much of the fibrous innards as you can. Rinse the seeds under water to help remove the rest of the pulp and dry the seeds on some layers of paper towels.

On a sheet pan, drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil. Brush another two tablespoons of olive oil all over the insides and outsides of the of the squash. Sprinkle the squash with 2 tsp of kosher salt and place cut-side down on the baking sheet. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until it is tender when pierced with a fork. Because these are going to be bowls for the risotto, you might have to cut a small piece from the curved peel-side so that they can stand on their own when you fill them. (Be careful not to cut too much into the flesh or the squash.)

While the squash is roasting, toast the seeds and make your risotto. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the squash seeds, season with 1/2 tsp kosher salt, and toast, stirring frequently, until the seeds are puffed and browned, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

In a large skillet, heat the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, season with the remaining salt, and saute until softened. Add the minced garlic and saute until the mushrooms are garlic are beginning to brown. Transfer the mushrooms and garlic, leaving any fat remaining in the pan and set the plate aside. (If you don't have any fat left in the pan, add another tablespoon of olive oil in the next step.)

Return the skillet to medium-high heat and add the rice. Toast for a minute or two, then add the wine. Let the rice absorb the sherry, stirring frequently. When almost all of the liquid has been absorbed, ladle  in a 1/2 cup of the stock, stirring again until the rice has absorbed almost all of the liquid. Continue adding a 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently as the rice absorbs each ladle-full of liquid, until the rice is tender and quite creamy (about 35-40 minutes total). Remove from the heat, and stir in freshly ground black pepper as desired, and the cheese. The cheese will melt as you stir. To serve, scoop about a cup of the risotto in each squash cavity, and top with squash seeds. Enjoy!

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