Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fall Risotto

Why hello there...remember me?  I used to blog here occasionally.  About food.  I hope you didn't forget about me or give up hope that I would return.  Well for a good chunk of this month I was unable to connect with you because I was eating my way around Italy.  What an amazing place!  But I'm not quite ready to share that trip with you today.  I'm a little rusty on this whole blogging thing, so I'm just going to share with you a tasty, simple fall recipe.

After weeks of eating lots of pasta and not a lot of vegetables, I needed to come home to something slightly more virtuous.  Not that this recipe is light, and its still delicious.  Its hearty, but it is definitely healthy.  And uses the best flavors of the season.

To beef up the healthy factor I passed on the rice and used heart-healthy barley as the base of this recipe.  Then added some fall produce.
Butternut squash, kale, sage, shallots and garlic.  The butternut squash is roasted until soft, so some of it melts into the risotto but there are still some meaty chunks.  
And the bitter kale is such a nice contrast to the sweetness of the squash and another seasonal treat I threw in the mix - dried cranberries!

I have a nice little tip for scraping the seeds out of squash.  I always use a grapefruit spoon.
The serrated edges are perfect for removing all the seed goo that likes to hang onto the squash.  This is also a good tool to remove seeds from chili peppers.

What really makes this recipe luscious and creamy is the addition of goat cheese.  I stirred in a whole log at the end and it also adds a great tang.
This recipe make a huge batch that I've been eating for lunch all week.  It reheats very well.
Butternut Squash and Kale Barley Risotto
1 medium butternut squash, about 1 - 2 lbs
1 medium bunch of kale, tough stems removed, washed and chopped
2 Tbs olive oil
1 large shallot, diced
1 Tbs chopped fresh sage
1 large clove garlic, minced or crushed
1.5 cups pearl barley
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
handful of dried cranberries
4 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
  • Preheat oven to 400ยบ
  • Peel, remove seeds and chop butternut squash into 1" chunks
  • Toss with about 1 Tbs olive oil and season with salt and pepper in a large roasting pan
  • Roast squash about 20 minutes, until tender
  • Heat broth in a medium saucepan over low heat until just warm.  Keep over low heat
  • Meanwhile, heat 2 Tbs olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.  Add shallots and sage and saute 2 - 3 minutes.  Add garlic and saute 1 minute more
  • Add barely to pan and toss to coat in oil.  Cook about 1 minute
  • Add 2 ladlefuls of broth to barley mixture. bring to a simmer and then reduce heat to low.  Stir and cover saute pan.  Cook about 5 - 10 minutes, until most of the broth is absorbed.  Continue to add broth by the ladleful and cooking until absorbed..  About half way through cooking, add kale, stir, and cover.  Continue to add broth and cook until kale is wilted and barely is just tender.
  • Stir in cranberries and roasted butternut squash, cooking and stirring another minute or 2.
  • Crumble goat cheese over the top and stir until all the goat cheese is incorporated.

Serve warm and enjoy!