Monthly Archives: January 2011

Acorn Squash and Apple Risotto

This weekend I feel in looove (that’s love with 3 o’s – a 200% increase in warm n’ fuzzy hugs) with this recipe for Apple and Squash Compote by Kim Boyce thanks to a feature on my friend Emily’s site. If you haven’t come across Kim’s book Good to the Grain in bloggy-land yet well then it’s time to join the party. I mean, it’s a solid cookbook on the wonders of baking. Everything from bread to tarts to soft pretzels. Solid. And if you buy it and disagree, well then you should punish me for my poor review of it by sending me your copy. Because I share my copy with the library and there are somethings in life that…frankly…I don’t want to share.

Back to the subject at hand, I made the compote Saturday and have been on a squash food jag ever since. I really liked how crispy and caramelized the squash got just by pan searing it and I wanted to find a way to reuse the technique.  So when the snow started to fall and fall and fall last night it put me in the mood for a homey version of risotto. This is good comfort food:  warm, creamy, cheesy an unpretentious. Now, when some people hear risotto they think starched linen tablecloths and expensive wine lists but let’s be honest; it’s rice for goodness’ sake. Rice cooked with onion, oil and broth. Misconceptions re-conceived? Unpretentious…right?

Originally I was going to just sear the cubed squash, but as I was standing over the stove taste-testing I missed the sweetness the apples added in last time.  So in a last minute decision I added in one Granny Smith apple, which I think ended up being a good move. The squash needed a little liquid to soften up and though I could of added broth I was already adding plenty of that to the risotto. The apple covered the sugar, the liquid and a new flavor combo all in one go.

So you’ll notice the first few steps of the recipe are very similar to the apple and squash compote by Kim Boyce but just diverted to a different ending. You can use whichever winter squash you like with the exception of spaghetti squash.  I picked up an Acorn Squash this time, but I used Carnival for the compote this weekend and Butternut works in just about any situation. I’ll give the same advice as I always do when talking about risotto – go with your gut. Get the gist of the recipe below but do what you think is best when you cook it yourself – meaning how much salt, broth, cheese to add. Taste as you go, often. And lastly, I couldn’t help but think when I was eating this that it would probably taste awesome with fried chicken…

Acorn Squash and Apple Risotto


  • 1 small acorn squash, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
  • 6 cups low sodium broth
  • Olive oil (~2 Tbsp)
  • 1 medium red onion sliced into 1/4″ wedges (aka julienned)
  • 2 cups mushrooms, sliced 1/4″ thick
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 1 cup fresh romano cheese (parmesan would also work)
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Warm broth on medium heat in medium-sized pot on back burner.
  2. While broth is heating, melt butter in large skillet on medium-high heat then add squash and toss to coat in butter.  Cook the squash for 3 minutes without turning.  If your butter starts to burn/brown turn the heat down. After 3 minutes, toss the squash and cook, untouched, for another 3 minutes.  The edges of the squash should start to turn golden brown and crispy. Add the apple and toss until coated with butter.  Turn down the heat to medium-low and let cook, stirring occasionally for about 5-10 minutes or until the apples start to give off their juices and are reabsorbed by the squash.  Salt to taste and remove from heat when squash is fork-tender but not mushy.
  3. While you have the squash and apples finishing off, heat ~2 Tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat in a large, deep skillet. Add in onion, salt lightly and let saute, stirring occasionally until the onions start to caramelize and some of the ends become slightly crispy. Add in the mushroom, some more salt and let cook about 2 minutes. Stir in garlic and let cook for 30 seconds then add in rice and let cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute then add in wine. Continue to stir occasionally and once majority of wine is absorbed turn heat down to medium and add in 2 ladles full off broth from your reserves. Stir the risotto every minute or so, allowing it to absorb the broth. Once about 80% of the broth is absorbed add in another 2 ladles full of broth and stir. Turn up heat if necessary to keep rice at a simmer. Continue this process until the rice begins to look creamy. At this point start tasting your rice for texture and drop down to adding broth in 1 ladle-full at a time. When rice is close to being cooked through add in cheese and squash/apple mix*.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4 as a main course or 6 as a side.  *You can also hold back the squash and serve the risotto platter style on top of the squash.


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Filed under Great Grains, Lunch/Dinner, Main Dish

Layered Butternut Squash Casserole

I don’t lose a lot of things, but recipes are one of them.  Not the new recipes that I’m wanting to try but the old recipes that I want to remake.  This would probably frustrate me immensely if it weren’t for the fact that I think it’s why I’m comfortable tweaking and reinventing recipes to my own tastes.

It usually goes like this:  I get it in my head that I want to make a certain dish.  There’s something specific that just sounds good, you know?  So I search everywhere for this perfect recipe that I swear I have somewhere.  Then, unable to find the recipe I figure…oh well, I’ll just wing it.  Enter today’s recipe.  The third recipe I’ve done this “ummmm…let’s make it this way…” method to, in just the past month.

The first time I had this dish was at a work-related potluck party.  I didn’t make the original myself but I did have the recipe somewhere at one point in time.  Gaaa.  Anyway, a delicious dish!  It’s lasagna-like, but instead of using noodles it uses thin slices of butternut squash.  So if you want a jazzy spin on a common comfort food then you’d probably really like this recipe.  It also works well to assemble ahead but bake off later.  Actually, the more I think about it, this would be the perfect main dish for a dinner party.  I always think the more time you can spend out of the kitchen when you have people over the better.  So with this you could toss together a salad and premake what I call “caprese on a stick”, an appetizer I saw for the first time at a New Years party this weekend.  Simple as the toothpick itself, you layer on a cube of fresh mozzarella cheese, a basil leaf and a grape tomato.  Done.  Then get the heck out of the kitchen while dinner bakes.

One last note before I post the recipe.  I meant to add some lentils into the sauce to get in some protein but, well, forgot.  So if you want to make this a true one dish meal, but don’t feel like adding in any meat that would be an option.  Just cook them in some broth until soft (but not mushy) and stir into sauce just before assembling lasagna.

Wait…two last notes before I post.  I just realized I never took a final shot of the finished product!  Whoops.  Three missing items in one post.  That’s got to be a record of some sort.  I probably shouldn’t even post this, buuuuuuut…

Layered Butternut Squash Casserole


  • Olive oil
  • 1 red onion, sliced into thin wedges
  • 2 cups mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 medium-sized butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into 1/8″ slices
  • 1 zucchini, cut into 1/8″ slices
  • 28 + 15 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 15-17 leaves of fresh basil
  • 15 oz ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in large skillet over medium heat and add in onion and lightly salt.  Saute onions, stirring occasionally until caramelized.  Remove from skillet and set aside.
  3. In same skillet, add in 2 more Tbsp olive oil, mushrooms and lightly salt.  Saute mushrooms until soft, add in garlic, cook for additional 30 seconds then add in crushed tomatoes.  Let sauce simmer, uncovered over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes.
  4. In 9×13″ baking dish layer ingredients as such: 1/3 of sauce, 1/2 of squash, all of ricotta, 1/2 of basil, 1/2 of mozzarella, all of zucchini, next 1/3 of sauce, other 1/2 of basil, other half of squash, last 1/3 of sauce and last 1/2 of mozzarella cheese.  You can reserve some of the basil to top the casserole if you want to be decorative.
  5. Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes.  Remove foil and continue baking for additional 25 minutes.  Remove from oven, top with parmesan cheese and let sit for 15-20 minutes to cool.


Filed under Main Dish