Apologies if this is a little disjointed…meandering…non-linear…et cetera. I am sitting down to some of the most delicious leftovers ever after three or four hours of intense kitchen activity. Between the baking and the poaching, the skin on my face is tight and fresh (from all the steam). The poaching isn’t quite finished – that’s the reason for any train of thought derailment.
…And I’m back. Well, I’ve finished dinner, gotten Z set up with some nachos, and am relaxing for a minute with a cupcake! Mmm, ginger buttercream.
Anyway, I’m trying to take advantage of more seasonal ingredients. Exploring citrus and stuff. But one thing I know I don’t eat enough of is winter squash. I’m not picky, I like pretty much every squash equally…I just never think to buy them for some reason. Winter squashes can be a lot of trouble…hard to cut…hard to cook, too. But an acorn squash struck my fancy at the grocery store the other night (plus it was on sale) and I decided to use it somehow.
I wasn’t sure how to do that until a few days later, when I was contemplating what other uses I might have for the Chardonnay I had bought for making cupcakes. I had used a pinot noir for a mushroom risotto, so the bright, flavorful Chardonnay might work well with a sweet, tender acorn squash. I googled the combination, tentatively with risotto, and found some recipes to encourage myself.
I mentioned previously that I had a problem with some stupid rosemary packaging, so this is a second try. I’m glad it was, because when I was cooking the original batch (before everything was drowning in rosemary), I found myself wishing I had some sage to add. I wanted to season the heck out of this stuff, so I picked up a bunch of fresh sage at the store the other day. I didn’t need such a large bunch, but there weren’t any smaller ones. I figured since I had the sage, I’d try frying some…I don’t remember where I heard of doing that, but it sounded like a great idea!
Fried sage is…interesting. I’d try it again, but perhaps with a sauce or dip or something for them, like sage chips. I’ll have to play with that idea. Basically, all you do to make them is clean and dry a few leaves while you heat some oil (I used safflower…smoke points and everything) in a deepish frying pan. Rub some flour onto the sage and drop them in, poking them down a bit so they are submerged. Allow them to fry for at least 30 seconds…they will be bright green. Remove with a slotted spoon onto paper towels and lightly absorb extra oil. I might try salting them next time.
I made half of the recipe written here (not sure if I’d have enough wine for the cupcakes if I used a whole cup in this…then I ended up with more). It’s very filling and flavorful, and really moreso the next day. Perfect with a generous sprinkling of fresh grated parmesan.
…And yes, I was thinking of Simon and Garfunkel when I was rooting around in the spice cabinet for things that smelled nice together. But the risotto is so well seasoned and delicious that I don’t mind admitting where I got the idea.
Acorn Squash Risotto
1 small-medium onion (depending on how much you like them), diced
1 acorn squash, peeled, seeds removed and chopped into 1″ or less chunks
1 cup Chardonnay
2 cups arborio rice
6-8 cups stock or broth (I used vegetarian buillon, because I’m lazy and don’t make my own)
4-5 large sage leaves, cleaned and dried
1/4 tsp dried crushed parsley
1/4 tsp dried crushed rosemary
1/4 tsp dried crushed thyme
1/2-1/3 cup frozen (or fresh) peas
Salt & pepper, to taste
Fried sage leaves, if desired (I fried mine up while the risotto was resting)
Heat some oil or butter (depending on your tastes) in a large stockpot over medium-high heat and add onion and squash. Saute for a few minutes, until the onion is translucent. Add the rice and stir constantly for a minute or two, then add the wine and sage and continue to stir until the wine is mostly absorbed. Add the stock or broth in cups, stirring constantly and adding more when the liquid is absorbed. Once you’re down to your last couple cups of stock/broth, add the remaining herbs and the peas. Continue stirring and adding broth until the rice is tender but still somewhat firm. Remove from heat, cover and allow to sit for a few minutes. Remove the sage leaves and serve with grated Parmesan and a garnish of fried sage leaves, if desired.
I considered this dish to be a pretty big step towards my getting over my issues with onions. As long as they’re cooked I don’t really have much to fear, even if they are chopped a bit roughly. Which they were this time. Because they were stinging my eyes and I was hungry.
I definitely recommend this dish. It would make a great accompaniment to a roasted chicken, maybe, if you’re not a tiny vegetarian like me. It is at least ten times better the next day, too…the flavors definitely develop.
As for the fried sage leaves…you’ll probably see them again sometime.