It’s fall, and you know what that means: Squashes are sneaking their way into everything! And yes, pumpkin, I’m look at you. Today, I’m giving a less prolific squash its due time in the spotlight. This recipe is a sort of deconstruction of a squash risotto, but it’s also a kind of squash risotto “inception”. You see,  I’ve taken the squash out of the risotto, but then I’ve gone and put the risotto inside of the squash. Boom! I know. It’s complicated. And intense. But oh so worth it. 

Components:

  • Vegetable Stock (recipe below)
  • Balsamic Roasted Acorn Squash (recipe below)
  • Porcini Risotto (recipe below)
  • Balsamic Reduction  (recipe below)

Vegetable Stock:

  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 large carrots, roughly chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 fennel bulb, roughly chopped (optional but recommended)
  • 8 cups of filtered water
  • 1 tablespoon vegan chicken flavored bouillon (enough to make 3 cups of broth)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Place all of the ingredients in an an electric pressure cooker and cook for 30 minutes. Use the quick release when the time is up. Strain. Reserve the vegetables for a pureed soup, or compost. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, just add everything to a stock pot and simmer for about an hour. Taste for salt after removing the vegetables. You want it to be flavorful, but not salty.

Balsamic Roasted Acorn Squash:

  • 1 acorn squash (or figure 1 acorn squash for every 2 people you’re serving)
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Carefully cut the acorn squash in half from top to bottom, and remove the seeds. Using a sharp paring knife, score the flesh of the squash, creating ½ inch stripes in one direction, and then score again in the opposite direction, creating a ½ inch squares. Add a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and about a teaspoon of olive oil to each half,  and then salt and pepper to taste. Using a brush, or  your hands, massage the seasonings and the oil into the flesh of the squash. Place in an oven-safe dish, and cook at 400 for about 45 minutes to an hour, or until the flesh is fork-tender and caramelized.

Porcini Risotto:

  • 6 cups flavorful vegan stock
  • ½ ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ onion diced
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 ½ cups arborio rice
  • Chopped, fresh Italian parsley
  • 2 tablespoons vegan butter (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

Heat your stock, and add your dried porcini mushrooms. Allow the mushrooms to rehydrate for about 10 minutes. Remove the mushrooms and allow them to cool. Once cooled, mince them into tiny pieces.

Put a large skillet to medium heat, and add your onions and olive oil. Allow the onions to cook until translucent. Add the arborio rice, and continue to cook until all the rice has been coated with oil, and it starts it get a bit translucent. Avoid creating any brown in the pan. Add the white wine, and stir until the wine has cooked away.

Set your timer for 18 minutes. Add about a cup and a half of stock to your rice, and continue to stir. It is believed that risotto turns out best if you continually stir in the same direction. If  you get bored with the one direction, switching it up shouldn’t hurt. Just keep stirring. When the stock is pretty much evaporated/absorbed, add a ladle-full, or about 3/4 cup of stock. Keep stirring. Repeat this process for the duration of the time.

When the time is up, test your rice for doneness. You want it to be al dente, but not raw. If it’s still a bit raw, continue to cook.

When the rice is perfectly cooked, add your vegan butter, and mushrooms. Stir to combine, and then place a lid on the pot and let it sit for two minutes. Remove the lid, stir in freshly chopped parsley and nutritional yeast.

Balsamic Reduction:

  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar

Pour the balsamic vinegar into a small pot or pan. Turn to medium-low heat, and allow the balsamic to reduce by at least half.  Stir regularly to avoid burning and to clean the sides of the pan. You’ll know it’s done when it coats a spoon, or when you can drag a spatula across the bottom of the pan, and it leaves a line. Remove from the pan, and let cool.

Assembly:

Place the cooked acorn squash in a bowl, or place several onto a serving platter if you are presenting this at an event. Add a spoonful of risotto to the serving dish, so that the squash can sit level in it. Spoon enough risotto into the cavity of the acorn squash. Drizzle your balsamic reduction over the top. Garnish with more chopped parsley. Serve warm.