Last weekend I made two dishes for dinner that had Italian origins, but I doctored them with an American ingredient or two: Squash Risotto with Pecans, and Chard with Currants and Pecans. Both recipes called for pine nuts, which I did not have, but, I had plenty of pecans on hand. And the chard recipe called for raisins; I only had currants, but it was a fine substitute. The full recipes are at the end of the post.
Since I was going to be stirring the risotto fairly often, I wanted to prep most of my ingredients first. (And I find that makes for a smoother cooking experience anyway.) Once the ingredients were prepped, first thing was to cook the squash in a small saucepan with fresh sage and a little salt, and then sprinkle it with a bit of sherry vinegar.
While the squash cooked, I started in on the risotto. First, sautéing onions until very soft, then adding the raw risotto and coating the grains well. And then adding the boiling broth a bit at a time.
After about 20 minutes, when the risotto was almost done, I added in the squash. And meanwhile, I also did the chard, which was super-easy – sautéing a little garlic, then adding in the chopped chard and stirring until wilted, and then adding the currants and the chopped toasted pecans at the end.
Both dishes were ready at the same time, I served them immediately, and topped the risotto with some grated Parm Reg. Very yummy! Recipes follow, enjoy,
Squash Risotto with Marsala, Sage, and Pecans
(a modified recipe that originally appeared in Bon Appetit)
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 2.5 to 3 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1/2 inch cubes, about 6 generous cups
- sea salt
- 1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon Sherry wine vinegar
- 2 onions, chopped, about 3 cups
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth, good quality
- 1-1/2 cups arborio rice (I used carnaroli, which is another kind of rice)
- 1/4 cup Marsala or medium dry sherry
- 3/4 cup pecans, toasted
- Parmesan cheese, shaved
1. Heat 2 T oil in heavy large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add squash, sprinkle with sea salt and saute until beginning to brown, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add chopped sage and cook until just tender, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Sprinkle Sherry wine vinegar over, toss to incorporate. Transfer squash to plate and wipe skillet clean.
2. Heat remaining 2T oil in the same skillet over high heat. Add chopped onions, sprinkle with sea salt, and saute until onions are soft and beginning to brown, 6 minutes. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until onions are soft and deep golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, bring the broth to a simmer in a saucepan. Cover and keep warm over low heat.
3. Add arborio (or carnaroli) rice to onions in skillet. Stir until rice is slightly translucent, about 4 minutes. Add sherry, stir until absorbed. Add 1 cup warm broth mixture, stir until almost all liquid is absorbed, about 3 minutes. Continue adding broth mixture by 1/2 cupfuls, stirring almost constantly, until rice is just tender but still firm to bite and risotto is creamy, this should take about 15 to 20 minutes. Then add the squash, and cook another few minutes, so about 20 to 25 minutes total. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the toasted pecans. Transfer squash risotto to plates and top with shaved parmesan if desired.
Swiss Chard with Currants and Pecans
(a modified recipe that originally came from Peggy Markel’s Tuscan kitchen)
- 1/4 cup chopped pecans
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound swiss chard, large stems removed
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 tablespoons currents, soaked and drained
- salt and pepper
1. Toast the pecans in the oven for a few minutes at low heat.
2. Cut chard into 1-inch pieces. Heat oil in large skillet, add garlic and saute until golden. Add chard and saute until wilted. Add currants and pecans and season lightly with salt and pepper.