Saturday, December 5, 2009

Health & Nutrition: Risotto With Winter Squash and Collard Greens


 As the cold and dreary winter weather sets in, I crave hot and satisfying comfort foods like soups and baked cassaroles. I'm planning to try this yummy recipe on Sunday with chicken in it. It's healthy and seasonally appropriate! 
Collard greens and roasted winter squash are very compatible in this nutritious and rich-tasting risotto. The squash, an excellent source of vitamin A, is sweet and tender, while the collards are earthy, with a slightly chewy texture.

1/2 pounds winter squash, such as butternut, banana or hubbard, peeled, seeded and cut in 1/2 inch dice (about 2 cups diced squash)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 bunch collard greens, about 1 pound, stemmed and washed
2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock, or 1 quart chicken or vegetable broth and 1 quart water
1 small or 1/2 medium onion
2 large garlic cloves, green shoots removed, minced
1 1/2 cups arborio or carnaroli rice
1/2 cup dry white wine, such as pinot grigio or sauvignon blanced
Pinch of saffron (optional)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (2 ounces)
3 to 4 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with foil. Toss the squash with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and spread on the baking sheet in an even layer. Place in the oven, and roast for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes until tender and caramelized. Remove from the heat.

2. While the squash is roasting, blanch the collard greens. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Fill a bowl with ice water. When the water comes to a boil, salt generously and add the collard greens. Blanch for four minutes and transfer to the ice water with a slotted spoon or skimmer. Drain and squeeze out extra water. Chop coarsely, or cut in ribbons.

3. Bring the stock to a simmer in a saucepan. Heat the remaining oil over medium heat in a large, heavy nonstick frying pan or a wide saucepan, and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until the onion begins to soften, about three minutes, and add the garlic and about 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring, until the onion is tender and the garlic fragrant, about one minute, and add the rice. Cook, stirring, until the grains of rice are separate.

4. Stir in the wine, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. The wine should bubble but not too quickly. When the wine has just about evaporated, add the collard greens, a third of the squash and the saffron. Stir in a ladleful or two of the simmering stock, enough to just cover the rice. The stock should bubble slowly. Cook, stirring often, until it is just about absorbed. Add another ladleful of the stock, and continue to cook in this fashion -- not too fast and not too slowly, adding more stock when the rice is almost dry -- until the rice is tender all the way through but still chewy, 20 to 25 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings.

5. Add the remaining roasted squash and another 1/2 cup of stock to the rice. Stir in the Parmesan and parsley, and remove from the heat. Add freshly ground pepper, taste one last time and adjust salt. The mixture should be creamy (add more stock if it is not). Serve right away in wide soup bowls or on plates, spreading the risotto in a thin layer rather than a mound.

Yield: Serves six.

Advance preparation: You can roast the squash and blanch the collards up to three days ahead. You can get ahead on the risotto, cooking it halfway through step 4, about 10 to 15 minutes, then spreading the rice out in the pan or on a baking sheet. Reheat and proceed with the recipe shortly before serving.

Martha Rose Shulman can be reached at martha-rose-shulman.com

1 comment:

Chic Chocolate said...

I'm going to try this over the holidays! Getting back on my healthy grind very soon and this dish is exactly what I'll need to start it off. The dish looks YUMMY!!

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