Archive for Seasonal

Squash Risotto

A large pot filled with golden squash risotto

Welcome to October, folks! 

Is it just me, or did September just fly by? And the summer before that? Life feels like it goes so fast sometimes; I wish it would just slow down. 

So, here we are in October, the month of jack-o-lanterns and turkey. I bought a bunch of sweaters (though I haven’t yet worn my boots), and I put away the fan and got out the comforter. 

Pumpkin spice season is in full swing, and guys, I don’t care if it makes me basic, I am loving it. Not Starbucks PS Lattes per se (I have one per year), but the whole pumpkin spice movement. 

First of all, if you’re using actual gourds (pumpkins or squashes), those guys are really good for you. Fibre, beta carotene, potassium and magnesium are some great reasons to wrestle with one of these tough-skinned veggies. 

Actually, this year, I did very little wrestling. I bought a medium-sized Kabocha squash at my local farm market, brought it home, and crashed through it with my big kitchen knife. I scraped out the seeds with a spoon, then I put it in the Instant Pot with some water for 10 minutes and it was good to go. After it was cooked, I peeled off the skin, then I ran it through the blender to make sure it was nice and pureed. 

I prefer cooking with squash over pumpkin. The two are basically interchangeable, and squash has less water content than pumpkin, and in the case of Kabocha, it’s sweeter, too. 

I have two pumpkin spiced recipes for you this week; one sweet, one savoury. 

You can also click here to see a whole list of my favourite pumpkin recipes through the years. 

A black plate with a serving of golden risotto

Today’s recipe is a reboot. Apparently I’ve been doing this long enough now that I need to reboot some of my recipes. Also, when I sent this link to someone last week, they informed me I’d left out a crucial ingredient. Sigh. 

I made this for dinner the other night, and it had this great sweet-savoury thing going on that made me so very happy. 

Also, don’t be afraid of risotto. Everyone is, but there’s no need. The important things to remember are to use a short-grained rice, add your warm stock a little at a time, and stir, stir, stir. 

I think I might make this again for Thanksgiving dinner. 🙂 

A large pot filled with golden squash risotto

Squash Risotto

(serves 2 and a bit)

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup aborio rice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter (use vegan butter to keep this vegan)
  • 1/2 cup pureed pumpkin or squash
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme or sage, chopped fine
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2 tbsp white wine
  • 4-6 cups vegetable stock
  • freshly grated parmesan cheese (optional, or vegan parm)
  • truffle oil (optional, but holy does it make it decadent)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method: 

  1. In a saucepan, heat the vegetable stock to boiling. Once it’s come to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer. 
  2. Meanwhile, in a large pot (I used my 6 quart Staub dutch oven) over medium heat, heat the olive oil and 1 tbsp of butter. Add the onions and a generous pinch of salt, stir to coat in the oil, and allow to cook until translucent. You may want to reduce the heat a little if you see the edges  of the onions picking up some caramelization. Once the onions are softened, add the garlic and stir until fragrant. 
  3. Add the rice and stir everything together until the rice is coated in the oil and onions and garlic. Add the squash/pumpkin, herbs, and another pinch of salt. Deglaze the pan with the wine. 
  4. Add a ladle or two of stock to the pan, and allow it to come to a boil. Stir the risotto fairly continuously, adding another ladle of stock as needed (the rice will absorb the stock, and as you’re stirring, if you begin to see the bottom of the pan, add another ladle), until all the stock is in the pan, and the rice isn’t hard in the middle. 
  5. Add the final pat of butter, and the cheese if you’re using it, stir well, and remove from the heat. Test for seasoning and add more salt if needed (remember parmesan cheese is quite salty, so it affects the flavour). Place a lid on and let it sit for a few minutes before serving with additional lashings of grated parmesan cheese and a drizzle of truffle oil (or plain olive oil if you don’t have any). 

 

Fall Kale Salad {Vegan}

We’re now in mid-September, but quite honestly, here in Vancouver, it feels more like November. 

I don’t rightly know what happened. Usually here on the West Coast we have a gorgeous fall, all coloured leaves and warm sunshine, but this year, it seems, someone flipped the switch on September 1, and it’s been nothing but cold, miserable and rainy. 

a colourful plate of kale salad

It is, of course, at this time of the year, that my thoughts turn to pumpkins, squashes, and other root vegetables. I start to think about risotto, chilli, ramen and soup. I want foods that are hearty, warming and filling, and I start to crave warming spices. 

I have been drinking a lot, and I mean a lot of tea. 

This time of the year is also one of the best times of the year to go shopping. Much summer produce is at its peak right now, and you’ll find, in addition to gourds at the Farmer’s Markets, corn, apples, zucchini, and we still have way too many tomatoes. 

I’ve been visiting, on nearly a weekly basis, a local farm in Richmond. This is one of my go-tos, because they grow and sell a lot of their own produce right there. This means a few things; you know exactly where your food is coming from, it’s really, really fresh, and it’s often much cheaper than at other times of the year. Last week, they were selling corn for 10/$1! (it was a mad house). 

The other thing that’s plentiful and cheap this time of the year is kale. This particular farm was selling massive bunches of kale for $.99. That was too good a deal for me to pass up; I figured worst case scenario, I can always make heaps of kale chips, which my teenager hoovers down in about 30 seconds flat. 

But much of that kale went into salads, actually. And I know it’s not exactly salad weather, but this is a Fall Kale Salad!. It’s not light and crispy–it’s hearty and filling. 

a colourful plate of kale salad

I’ve been making variations on this Fall Kale Salad for years. It goes something like this: 

  • greens (in this case, kale)
  • roasted vegetables
  • a fruit (sometimes dried fruit)
  • a crunchy element (nuts etc)
  • cheese (if you’re not vegan)
  • dressing

This basic formula translates into an endless variety of salads that mean you’ll never be bored. Just try different types of veg, different types of fruit, different types of crunchies. Choose them based on what’s available and in season. In the summer, you might choose berries, but this time of the year, apples are easier to find. 

In terms of dressing, any basic vinaigrette will do, but I love this tahini-based version. It makes for a creamy dressing (without dairy or eggs) and there’s something about the roasty sesame paste that’s cozy and warming. 

Fall Kale Salad {Vegan}

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch tuscan kale
  • 1 small-medium golden beet 
  • dried cranberries (1/8 cup)
  • roasted chickpeas (1/8 cup)
  • shaved parmesan (leave off for a vegan version, or use vegan parm)

For the dressing: 

  • 3 tbsp tahini
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice 
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • one clove garlic, minced
  • salt & pepper to taste

Method

  1. Lay the kale leaves on a cutting board and carefully score up each side of the ribs, removing the leaves from the ribs. Discard the ribs. Roll the kale leaves as tightly as possible, and then run your knife down the length of the leaves, leaving little ribbons (this is called chiffonade). Wash and dry the kale ribbons. 
  2. Meanwhile, roast the beet. You can either roast it whole in the oven and then slice into chunks or I sliced mine thinly on the mandolin and roasted them in a single layer, brushed with oil, in the oven, until the edges were a bit crispy. 
  3. Add all the dressing ingredients to a mason jar and shake well to combine. Place the kale in a large bowl, pour the dressing over, and toss well to combine. 
  4. Heap the kale up on a plate, and scatter around the roasted beets, cranberries and roasted chickpeas. Top with shavings of parmesan if you like. You can finish with a drizzle of dressing if you like as well. 

 

 

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