Delicata squash Risotto: the flavor of the roasted squash is smooth, semisweet, with hints of the caramelized roasted garlic and herbs, delightful and pleasant, and the rice has a nice slight crunch to it. What a lovely meal.
We are on a bus going north in Italy, bus traveling along winding roads, views of breathtaking seaside cities and towns. It is our second home Italy and always a pleasure and a beautiful experience. Usually when we are here we plan trips to different places in Italy as it is so easy to travel anywhere, and this year took us to Milan for the World Expo where the topic was food. For those of you who do not know what the Expo is, I am going to explain it a bit. The Expo is a showcase of many different countries and cultures, each country having a pavilion and there they educate people on the topic or theme of the Expo. This year it being food, countries explain their efforts in food sustainability along with traditions, way of life, the amazing architecture of their pavilions, and the amazing food of each culture which you could buy and eat, yum! along with trinkets and wares. Nicoletta and I loved the experience and learned so much and were amazed at the growth in technology each country displayed. There was a robotic bar, yes I know crazy, these robotic arms super fast very precise pouring drinks. A bit scary for me, and how about those that go to talk to bartenders and spill their guts out hoping for some sort of revelation from the bartender. These robots didn’t seem so heart felt lol.
Now to the thing I wanted to share with you as I have been known not to have a shortage of things to say. While visiting the Expo we were staying in a town called Pavia, in the region of Lombardia, not far from Milan. You can see fields upon fields of Carnaroli rice growing in a more dry terrain, not as we know rice to be grown in water saturated fields. Golden wisps dancing in the wind, a beautiful sight to see and then being able to buy it right there from the producers, seeing its rawest form then holding the rice in your hand smooth creamy color knowing that it is going to taste so good an absolute amazing thing. We bought two packages of Carnaroli, one at the hotel we were staying at and one at a Certosa, which is a Monastery. The Certosa di Pavia, a monastery serene and echoing in quiet solitude, amongst historical fresco paintings on the old ornately sculpted walls of this building. Saints and sages gazing down upon you as if protecting you, a feeling of calmness washes you like a warm cloth. Most of the time emotions fill me for whatever reason but I just watch and feel as they rise and fall, as I listen to the monk tell us the story of this blessed place. In most of the Monasteries there is a store where you can buy goods that the monks produce. Things like liquors and grappa which is a type of moon shine, also candies, jams, preserves, honey and so much more too long to list, but not forgetting the inspiration ingredient for today’s recipe Carnaroli rice, and our dish Delicata Squash Risotto.
Our usual run to the Strathcona Farmers’ Market brought us some great ingredients for our weekly meal plan, and of those ingredients a beautiful delicata squash from Sunrise Gardens always a pleasure to shop there with the great microgreens and the wheatgrass for our cats which they go crazy for. But today the delicata squash was going to be the star of our risotto dish along with amazing purple onions from another vendor of the market.
The squash halved, prepared with garlic, herbs, seasonings and a nice olive oil bath turned flesh side down on the baking sheet so that it can steam and infuse all those flavors into the sweet smooth fleshiness of the delicata squash, roasted till the edges get caramelized and crispy which will add levels of flavor to the carnaroli rice. The smell that lingers in the kitchen has you starving and waiting impatiently for the meal to be served. Squash cooled then scooped of all that beautiful smooth sweet soft billowy starch left a little rustic not wanting it all to melt away in the risotto, leaving some to garnish the top and also to give the experience of the texture of this veggie.
One thing about risotto is it takes great care to make it. It is not one that you can start and walk away from. It demands constant turning and adding of broth, simmering till that perfect nutty somewhat al dente consistency is achieved. The great thing about risotto is because of that slow simmer type cooking the flavor ingredient such as the delicata squash is slowly infused and becomes almost concentrated, giving the risotto amazing taste.
The flavor of the roasted delicata squash smooth semisweet with hints of the caramelized roasted garlic, herbs of oregano, basil, parsley and rosemary, dancing upon your taste buds, delightful and pleasant, and the rice a nice slight crunch to it, wrapped in the creamy sauce of the broth, the starch of the rice and the squash and that dollop of butter at the end to put that je ne sais quoi, absolutely heavenly. Of coarse a dusting of parmigiano on top just to add a bit of aged excellence to every bite, and fresh cracked black pepper if you like, a personal preference indeed.
Risotto to Italians is like potatoes and gravy is to Canadians, pure comfort food. So if comfort is what you are craving and we know that squash is in season, don’t waste another moment to make this delicata squash risotto.
This post is part of the Eat Alberta Fall Favourites Recipe Round-Up.Print
- 1 delicata squash
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon fresh chopped parsley
- 1 teaspoon fresh chopped basil
- 1 teaspoon fresh chopped oregano
- 1 teaspoon fresh chopped rosemary
- 2 pinches paprika
- 2 table spoons extra virgin olive oil
- Dash of salt
- Dash of pepper
- 1 cup carnaroli rice (if you can’t find carnaroli use arborio rice instead)
- 4 cups warm vegetable stock
- 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons chopped yellow onion
- 1/4 cup grated parmigiano reggiano
- 1 teaspoon butter
- For the squash: Cut squash in half and scoop out seeds and pulp.
- Sprinkle each half with olive oil.
- Toss in each half of squash half of the oregano, basil, parsley, and rosemary.
- Squish garlic cloves and place one in each half.
- Sprinkle with paprika, salt, and pepper.
- Take a baking sheet and line with parchment paper.
- Turn squash flesh side down making sure garlic is covered by squash.
- Bake in a 375 f oven till you can slide a fork into the squash with ease, approximately 30 minutes.
- Take out of oven and cool.
- When squash is cooled scoop out soft squash with a spoon into a bowl.
- Place some more chunky bits in another dish for use as a garnish after risotto is plated.
- For the Risotto: In a medium saute pan on medium to high heat drizzle olive oil.
- Toss in chopped onion and saute till transluscent.
- Add carnaroli rice. Stir well till all rice is coated with the oil.
- Spoon in the squash, and stir well.
- Pour a ladle full of vegetable broth into the pan stirring frequently.
- As the broth dissipated add another ladle full.
- Keep doing this till broth is finished or until rice has a slight crunch to it or it is to your desired liking.
- When last bit of broth has dissipated and risotto is nice and creamy take off heat and put in the butter mixing it well through.
- Plate risotto, sprinkle with grated parmigiano and some fresh parsley and a bit of the leftover squash chunks.
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