While the colorful leaves are falling, farmers are harvesting a colorful array of winter squash to bring to the Saratoga Farmers’ Market. These include orange pumpkins, tan butternut squash, green and yellow delicate or acorn squash, and the giant grey Hubbard squash.
Winter squash is distinguished from summer squash by its thick skin which increases its shelf life. When held at the right temperature and humidity level most winter squash will keep for three months. Hubbard squash will keep for up to six months, so if you’re looking for a squash to get you through the winter, pick up one of those huge, grey, bumpy squashes. Don’t store winter squash in your refrigerator; refrigerator temperatures can actually shorten the shelf life. The best temperature is between 55-60 degrees, so an unfinished basement might be the best location. At 50˚F or below they are subject to chilling damage. Above 60˚F they become stringy over time. Squash will do best when store at a relatively low humidity level.
A great way to cook winter squash is to roast it. Just cut it in half through the stem and place it on a baking sheet with the cut side down. It will take about 40 minutes to roast squash, about the same amount of time it takes to roast a chicken, so while you’re at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market, pick up a whole chicken to roast along with the squash. While those are cooking, prepare the risotto for the recipe below.
Risotto is made with Arborio rice, a medium grain Italian rice you’ll find in the grocery store alongside all the other rice. This rice and the technique of adding the liquid gradually is what gives Risotto its creamy texture. The addition of chevre, another ingredient you can get at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market, adds a tart earthy flavor to this perfect fall recipe.
Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto
4 medium onions*
1 small to medium butternut squash*
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic*, minced
1 ½ cup Arborio rice
¾ cup dry white wine (room temperature)
4 cups reduced sodium vegetable broth
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
4 ounces (1/2 cup) chevre* (goat cheese)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Peel and finely chop 1 onion for sautéing, set aside.
Cut the remaining 3 unpeeled onions in half crosswise, and the squash in half lengthwise. Place onions and squash (cut side down) on a greased baking sheet and roast until softened (about 40 minutes). Allow to cool to the touch. Scoop the squash flesh out of the skin and chop into bite sized pieces along with the onion.
While vegetables are roasting prepare the risotto as follows. Heat the broth in a small sauce pan on medium heat. In a large saucepan on medium high, heat oil, add chopped onion and minced garlic, sauté until onion is translucent (about 5-10 minutes).
Add the rice to the onion and cook until the kernel edges are transparent, about 4 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring frequently, until the wine is completely absorbed by the rice, about 2 minutes.
Add 1 cup of warm stock, simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is absorbed and the bottom of the pan is dry, about 5 minutes. Continue adding ½ cup of stock at a time and cooking until all broth is gone and rice is cooked.
Remove from heat, stir in the chevre cheese, and gently fold in the roasted onion and squash. Makes 6 servings.
Nutrition per serving: 350 calories, 7 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 10 mg cholesterol, 58 g carbohydrate, 5 g fiber, 11 g protein, 380 mg sodium.
Ingredients marked with an asterisk (*) are available at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market on High Rock Avenue. For information about food and nutrition contact Diane Whitten at Cornell Cooperative Extension at 885-8995or email@example.com.