Sunday, February 21, 2010

Risotto with Winter Squash and Collard Greens

Not a weeknight meal, but well-worth the effort when you have more time. We had the time today, after spending a beautiful sunny weekend mowing the lawn, taking down the Christmas lights (don't judge me), and refilling my bird feeders.

Anyway, let's talk about risotto. Basically, it's an Italian rice dish that's cooked slowly on the stove. You stir it often and add stock or broth gradually so that the rice release their starches and the dish becomes very creamy as a result.

I got this recipe from the New York Times online, in the "Recipes for Health" section. Every week they have recipes that feature a pantry or produce item. We already had the squash, I bought some collard greens, and I also added some rainbow chard that we got in the CSA. I didn't blanch the chard with the collards though, because it's not as thick so it didn't need it.

We had a lot of extra broth leftover that we didn't end up needing. You have to have it on a simmer ready to go, so you can't just not open one of your quart packages and wait and see if you'll need it. So my suggestion is to freeze your leftover broth, or use their variation of 1 quart broth and 1 quart water, and then if you have leftovers you can boil it down to concentrate it (since you diluted it with the water), and then freeze it. Or just refrigerate it and plan to make something with it later in the week.

Risotto with Winter Squash and Collard Greens
adapted from NYTimes Recipes for Health
Serves 4-6  

1 1/2 pounds winter squash, such as butternut, banana or hubbard, peeled, seeded and cut in 1/2 inch dice (about 2 cups diced squash)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 bunch collard greens, about 1 pound, stemmed and washed
2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock, or 1 quart chicken or vegetable broth and 1 quart water
1 small or 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped (I'm guessing on "finely chopped", the recipe accidentally omitted how you are supposed to prep the onion)  
2 large garlic cloves, green shoots removed, minced
1 1/2 cups arborio or carnaroli rice
1/2 cup dry white wine, such as pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc
Pinch of saffron (optional)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (2 ounces)

3 to 4 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley   

Preheat oven to 425. On a baking sheet covered with foil, toss your diced squash with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread them out in an even layer. Roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so. When they are done with will be a little caramelized and very tender. Put them in a bowl and set aside. Try not to munch on too many of them. But do enjoy a few bites.

Meanwhile, get some water boiling in a large pot to blanch the collard greens. Once the water is boiling, add a good amount of salt and add the greens. Boil for about 4 minutes and submerge them in a large bowl of cold water and ice to stop the cooking process. Gently ring out the water and while you still have each leaf rolled up, chop them into ribbons. Set them aside for later.

While your squash is finishing roasting, start to bring the stock/broth to a simmer in a saucepan.

Ok, now you have completed all the preparatory steps, you can finally start putting it all together!

Heat the remaining oil in a large nonstick skillet/frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion, cook about 3 minutes, until the onion is softened. Add the garlic and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook about one minute more, then add the rice. Cook, stirring until the grains of rice separate, then add the wine and keep stirring constantly. The wine should bubble slowly. When it is just about absorbed, add the collard greens, about 1/3 of the squash, and the saffron, if using. Stir in a few ladlefuls of stock, just enough to cover the rice.

The stock should bubble slowly, turn the heat down a bit if it's cooking to fast. Stir often while it cooks, and when the liquid is just about absorbed, add another couple of ladelfuls of stock. Continue this process of stirring and adding stock for about 20-25 minutes, until the rice is tender all the way through but still chewy (is this similar to what they say with pasta, to cook until tender but it should still have a bite to it?).

Add the rest of the squash and another ladleful of stock. Stir in the Parmesan and parsley and take the pan off the heat. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve immediately.

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