I don’t know about you, but I like it when I see dirt on my vegetables. It makes it feel as though they have spent some honest time in the ground and haven’t been sterilized and made shiny by a machine. I think of calloused hands, tending them as they grow from seeds to tender shoots to fruiting plants, then finally picking the vegetables with care and passing along the love to me.
It’s that dirt that probably made me cave for this golden hubbard squash when I was out shopping for a pumpkin. That and the fact that I had never heard of a hubbard squash, and was so curious by its shape and size. $12 later I had no clue what I’d do with it, but I’ve discovered several recipes that have potential, and it’s a good thing, too. Destructing it this weekend I discovered that just the amount of meat alone allows for you to get creative and try several different dishes.
The first is a creamy and rich risotto. The hubbard squash may be in the name, but shallots and chanterelles grace this dish adding delicate flavors. Because of its richness it is best served as a side dish, or along with a refreshing salad with a citrus or vinegar dressing. You may also want to consider serving this as a unique dish at your Thanksgiving meal.
Hubbard Squash Risotto
Based upon the Winter Squash Risotto recipe found at Eating Well
Tip: You can use other types of winter squash if the hubbard squash is not available or preferred.
- 5 cups vegetable broth or plain water
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 medium shallots, thinly sliced
- 3 cups hubbard squash, peeled and chopped (1/2-inch pieces)
- 2 cups shiitake, chanterelle or white button mushroom caps, thinly sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads (optional)
- 1 cup arborio rice
- 1/2 cup dry white wine, or dry vermouth (optional)
- 1/2 cup finely shredded or crumbled vegan cheese like Teese Vegan Cheese or Daiya
Wash your hubbard squash, then cut off both ends.
You’ll notice pretty quickly that the exposed flesh sweats. Before you cut the squash open, put the towel under the squash to reduce the squash’s ability to slip, then carefully cut the squash in half.
I found that my squash was too large to cut straight through, so I would cut down one side, turn it, then cut down the other side. Cut one side of the squash into smaller pieces that will be more manageable to handle for when you will be peeling it. You may need only one-third or one-half of the squash for this recipe, so keep this in mind as you are cutting the pieces.
Then using a potato peeler, peel the squash. The skin is bumpy, so you may find the peeling process to take longer than it would with a smoother-skinned squash.
Once it is peeled, cut three cups of small half-inch chunks.
Tip: To make the chopping easier, pop the peeled pieces into the microwave for about a minute (you may need to do a tad bit more). They may be hot to the touch, so take care, but when they are cool enough to handle the chopping should be far easier. Be aware, though, that this is not meant to be cooked in the microwave, so do not allow it to be in there for more than five minutes at most.
Place broth or water in a medium saucepan, then bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat so the broth remains steaming, but is not simmering.
Slice the shallots, which are mild onions. If you need to, you may substitute white or yellow onions.
Prepare the mushrooms. I used chanterelles, but you can use shiitake or I am sure that white button mushrooms would also work just fine.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, the add the shallots. Cook and stir them about one minute. Stir in squash and mushrooms, and cook and stir for five minutes until the mushrooms give off their liquid.
Add thyme, salt, pepper and saffron (if using), then cook for 30 seconds.
I had some saffron on hand, so I decided to use a little. It’s a very expensive spice that has a bitter and tart odor, but is usually used in dishes to add a bit of color.
Add rice, and stir until translucent, about one minute.
Add wine (or vermouth) and cook and stir for about one minute, until almost absorbed by the rice, about one minute.
Stir in one-half cup of the hot broth, then reduce heat to a gentle simmer and cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid has been absorbed.
Continue adding the broth one-half cup at a time, stirring after each addition until all the liquid has been absorbed, and until the rice is tender and creamy. This will take at least 30 to 40 minutes total, and you may have some broth left.
Remove from the heat and stir in the vegan cheese. I used Teese that I mashed up with a fork.
If, like me, you have never made risotto before, you may want to take a moment to watch this video that I found after I made this. Watch the video, then try the recipe. You may save yourself some time, and your risotto will probably be just as creamy and perfect.
Have you made risotto before? What are the star ingredients?