Friday, December 02, 2011

Lunch with Cici: Squash two ways

This week I have been focused on pointing you all to a big fundraising event to support 3 charities that are near and dear to my heart. I hope you all have had a chance to stop by the blogs to see what kind of giveaways are happening and I am so grateful to those of you who have donated. If you still haven't had a chance to peek, the links are just to your right in my sidebar.

I thought I'd take a minute to show you a quick little dish I made for lunch with our Thanksgiving leftovers. And while you are probably sick of hearing about what to do with leftovers, you should know that this particular side dish is one I make often throughout the year and decided at the last minute to add it to my Thanksgiving menu. So really it is regular food and not holiday food. Does that make it better? I know, we are all getting sick of holiday food. I'm with ya.

So which side dish am I talking about? The Sweet and Spicy Squash one. This has been a staple to our fall and winter dishes for many many years now. It is roasted squash with the sweetness of caramelized brown sugar, the heat of crushed red pepper, and the brightness of thyme. It is as simple as that and we happen to LOVE it around here.

Then in a quiet moment when just Cici and I were home, I turned it into a delicious savory risotto for a mommy and baby lunch date.

  • 4 C of 1" diced squash (I used Butternut and Delicata) 
  • 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 C brown sugar
  • ~1 T crushed red pepper (i use a red pepper grinder instead of the bigger flakes) You should adjust this to your liking.
  • 5 sprigs of thyme
For the Risotto
  • 1/2 C Arborio Rice
  • 2+ C chicken stock, warmed
  • 1/4 C minced pancetta
  • 1/4 C diced onion
  • splash of white wine
  • extra thyme
  • knob of butter (1-2 tsp)
  • 1/4 C total grated parmesan and gruyere cheeses
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 C leftover squash warmed or at room temp

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  2. Toss squash with EVOO and some kosher salt
  3. Spread out on a silpat lined baking sheet and scatter sprigs of thyme throughout. You may need 2 baking sheets.
  4. Roast at 425 for about 10 minutes. I roast them until just the very top layer of the squash has some give to it when it is pricked with a fork. The interior should still be fairly raw.
  5. Take them out of the oven, turn the heat down to 350 degrees
  6. Sprinkle brown sugar and red pepper over squash and toss to coat. Shake pan so they are once again in a single layer.
  7. Put it back in the oven and roast until squash is soft but still has some bite and the sugar is gooey but not burned.
  8. Depending on your oven, you may need to reduce the heat so the sugar doesn't burn. You may have to watch this a little.
For the Risotto
  1. Saute pancetta in 1 tbs of olive oil over medium heat until crunchy like well done bacon. 
  2. Remove from pan with heatproof slotted spoon and turn off heat.
  3. Toss onions into pancetta drippings (yes, now we're talking!) and cook over medium-low heat until soft and translucent.
  4. Add rice and some thyme leaves (maybe 1/2 tsp) and cook (well toast actually) the rice for about 2 minutes.
  5. add a splash of wine - enough to make it all wet but not enough to cover.
  6. Cook until wine is absorbed and you hear the pan crackle once or twice.
  7. Now start adding your warm stock - ladle in enough to cover, and cook until it is all absorbed.
  8. Repeat until the rice is al dente - a bit of a bite to it. At this point taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper to your liking.
  9. Cover with stock again, cook for 2 more minutes
  10. Add butter, cheese, cheese, and squash - turn off heat, cover, and go pour yourself a glass of wine.
  11. After 5 minutes, remove cover, stir to incorporate everything. Check for seasoning and adjust if needed.
Yay. Two dishes out of one! The sweet heat of the squash paired with the salty pancetta and earthy cheese is beyond delicious. You gotta try this.

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