Sage and Butternut Squash Risotto Stuffed Pumpkins
This Fall favorite was thought up by our very own Josh Gibbs. Roasted pumpkins are stuffed with a savory risotto, mushrooms, fried sage and butternut squash for a dish that is as showstopping on the table as it is delicious. For best results, select pumpkins that sit a little higher, with stems that don't plunge too far down into the squash. Follow along with us: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oAaTKkAVQp4
Prepare the Butternut Squash:
1) Carefully peel the butternut squash removing all green flesh beneath the skin, clean the seeds out of the squash and then dice into uniform 3/4 inch pieces.
2) Place the diced squash in a mixing bowl, season lightly with salt, pepper and 1 Tbl of the pumpkin pie spice. Add 2 Tablespoons of oil and mix thoroughly making sure squash is well coated and the seasoning is well-distributed.
3) Spread the squash on a baking sheet, making sure not to crowd the pieces together. Roast until fully tender, and lightly browned in a 375 degree oven. You may need to flip the squash after about 10 minutes to ensure even browning. The squash should take about 20-25 minutes in total and have started to sweeten. It is important that it is fully cooked and quite tender.
4) Remove from the oven. Using a blender, puree about 2/3 of the squash with just enough vegetable stock to loosen the mixture enough to form a smooth puree. Set aside the puree and remaining roasted squash pieces.
Prepare the fried Sage:
5) While the squash is cooking, pick the sage leaves from the stem. Mince some of the sage leaves until you have 2-3 tablespoons of minced sage. Set the rest of the whole leaves aside.
6) Heat 1 ½ cups of the oil in a small saucepan. (If you have a candy thermometer, use it to monitor the oil until it reaches a temperature of 350 degrees. If you do not have a high temp thermometer, wait a couple of minutes while heating, and drop a single sage leaf into the oil. You want to see it near-instantly start to “sizzle” and bubble lightly around the edges. If the oil is not hot enough, you will not see much reaction. If too hot, it will “crackle” and burn before it crisps up).
7) Prepare a plate lined with paper towel to drain the fried sage on and drop the remaining sage leaves into the oil and gently stir around with a slotted spoon, for about 15-20 seconds, until the bubbling slows a bit, and the sage darkens in color to a dark green color. Quickly remove from the oil with the slotted spoon to the paper-lined plate, and lightly sprinkle with salt. Set aside.
Prepare the Pumpkins:
8) Using a Chef’s knife, carefully cut the top off the pumpkins, just below where the stem meets the flesh. The pumpkins are quite hard. Use care and keep your fingers clear!
9) Using a sturdy, smaller spoon, remove the seeds to a separate bowl and reserve. Continue to whittle away the inner walls of the pumpkins to reach a uniform thickness about ½ inch thick.
10) Rub the pumpkins and their “lids”, inside and out with a light coating of oil, then season the pumpkins with the remaining spice mix (reserving about a teaspoon for the seeds), salt and pepper. Arrange the pumpkins on another baking sheet with the tops flipped upside down and next to the pumpkin “bowls”.
11) Roast in the oven in a similar fashion to the diced squash. They will take about ½ hour. Check after 20 minutes by pinching the inner walls to test for tenderness and return to the oven. Again, you want them quite tender, but not collapsing. If too hot to handle, you can poke (from the inside) with a small paring knife, as you might check a baked potato for doneness – the knife should sink through the flesh easily.
Prepare the Pumpkin Seeds:
12) Clean as much of the pumpkin “guts” off the seeds as you can, and rinse with warm water. Pat dry. Add a few drops of oil, the last of the spice mix and a pinch of salt, toss together and place on baking sheet. Toast in the oven, 6-10 minutes, remove, and set aside for garnish with the sage.
Prepare the Mushrooms:
13) While the pumpkins are roasting, Bring your vegetable stock (or water) to a simmer on the stove.
14) Place the dried mushrooms into a small bowl and cover with a little of the stock or water; just enough to cover, lightly stir, and set aside to rehydrate for about 15 minutes. Drain the mushrooms when tender and pliable. (The liquid will be dark and quite aromatic. It can be added to your vegetable stock for extra flavor in your rice, reserved for another use, or discarded, it’s up to you!)
Make your Risotto:
15) Cube your butter and set aside.
16) In a large, straight-sided skillet, or large saucepan, gently sauté the minced shallots in the remaining oil without browning them, until fragrant (just a minute or two). Add the rice, and continue to stir until the rice is well-coated with hot oil.
17) Add approximately a tablespoon of salt, and the white wine, and continue to stir gently. A wooden spoon or wooden spatula is the ideal tool to use, as it is gentle on the rice kernels, yet stiff enough to prevent the starchy rice from sticking.
18) Add about 6 cups of the simmering stock and ½ of the minced sage and stir; bringing to a simmer and ensuring the rice is not sticking to the bottom of the pan.
19) As the rice simmers, gently stir keeping it loose in the pan. Add more stock in small increments to keep it covered with liquid, but only to the top of the level of the rice. Start testing the doneness of the rice by tasting after it has simmered for about 15 minutes. (Properly cooked risotto should be slightly “toothy” or “al dente”. It should not be overly soft or mushy). As it gets close to done, add your squash puree to the pot, along with the remaining minced sage and salt to taste. Continue to add stock as necessary.
Sauté the Garnish and Reheat Pumpkins:
20) As the rice nears completion, heat a small amount of oil in a sauté pan. When hot, add the reserved roasted squash pieces and mushrooms and sauté to lightly caramelize – season lightly with salt and black pepper.
21) Simultaneously, place the pumpkins back in the oven to reheat if they have cooled.
Finish the Rice, Plate and Serve!
22) To finish the rice, add just a little more stock, and the cubed butter. Stir gently, creaming the butter into the risotto, and verify and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if desired. The result should be loose – not too thick and should have some viscosity to it – it should not be stiff like mashed potatoes. Adjust as necessary using stock.
23) Spoon 2/3 of the risotto onto a serving platter and spread out. Carefully place the hot pumpkins on the risotto, and fill with the remaining rice, allowing some to spill out over one side of each pumpkin.
24) Sprinkle with the sauteed squash and mushrooms, the fried sage leaves and the toasted pumpkin seeds. Finally, place the pumpkin tops on top of each pumpkin, off-center and at a bit of an angle. Your mini pumpkin patch is complete! Serve immediately.