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Pumpkin Salad and Butternut Squash Risotto

October 20, 2010

There are some nights when trying to cook and take care of a baby are trickier than others.  Last night was surely one of those nights.  For those of you who don’t know me personally, we have been trying to conquer my son’s fussiness and nap time struggles for the past two months, a task that would wear anyone out. 

Last night’s meal was to be the most complicated of the week, but somehow my son did not get the memo.  He’s only five months old; you can’t really blame the little guy.  However, I was determined to be super mom, get dinner on the table and overcome my son’s fussiness!  Thankfully I survived to tell the tale.  He ended up helping me fix the whole meal and I distracted him by talking him through all the cooking processes.  I don’t think he was honestly interested in learning about the complexities of peeling a pumpkin, but now he knows!

To celebrate my efforts, I am going to share two recipes today!

Warm Pumpkin, Blue Cheese and Spinach Salad
Yields: 4 Servings

1 small Pumpkin (about 2 lbs, halved, seeded and peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes)
6 tablespoon Extra virgin olive oil
2 ounces Pine nuts
1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Corn syrup or maple syrup
1 teaspoon Coarse grain mustard
1 pinch Light brown sugar
6 ounces Baby spinach
8 ounces Dolcelatte (at room temperature, cubed; use blue if you cannot find)

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F Place the pumpkin in a roasting tin, drizzle over 2 tbs of the oil, then season generously. Toss until evenly coated and roast for 35-40 minutes until tender and lightly caramelized.
2. Meanwhile, put the pine nuts in a small roasting tin and place in the oven with the pumpkin for 8-10 minutes until golden brown. Leave to cool.
3. Place the remaining 4 tbs of oil in a large bowl with the vinegar, syrup, mustard, sugar and seasoning. Whisk until well combined and thickened.
4. When the pumpkin is cooked, tip it into the dressing and stir to coat. Fold in the spinach leaves, crumble in the dolcelatte and scatter with the pine nuts. Serve. 

I had only ever carved a pumpkin for Halloween purposes, so I was a little nervous undertaking the process of peeling and prepping the pumpkin.  Thankfully it was much easier than expected!  Here are some photos from my process:


 Overall the recipe is pretty straight forward.  I didn’t even know where to begin to find the dolcelatte the recipe calls for, so I went ahead and used regular blue cheese.  I’ve never had dolcelatte so I cannot say if I was seriously missing out by making the substitute?  Also, I didn’t toss the spinach in the vinaigrette for the sake of the picture but made sure to mix it up before taking my first bite.  This was the first time I had eaten pumpkin in this way and I was not disappointed!

Creamy Butternut Squash Risotto
Yields: 4 Servings

1 1/4 cup Uncooked Arborio rice or other medium-grain rice
2 teaspoon Olive oil
2 1/2 cup Fat-free low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup Water
1 12-ounce package Frozen pureed butternut squash
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Freshly ground pepper
6 tablespoon Fresh Parmesan cheese (grated)
Fresh thyme

1. Combine rice and oil in a 1 1/2-quart microwave-safe dish, stirring to coat. Microwave, uncovered, at HIGH 3 minutes.
2. Add broth and 1 cup water to rice mixture; microwave, uncovered, at HIGH 9 minutes. Stir well; microwave, uncovered, at HIGH 6 minutes. Remove from microwave; let stand 5 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed.
3. While risotto stands, heat squash in microwave at HIGH 2 minutes or until warm. Add squash, salt, pepper, and cheese to risotto. Stir well to combine. Garnish with additional cheese and thyme sprigs, if desired.

I only used this recipe for inspiration because the thought of making risotto in the microwave did not appeal to me.  For those of you who have made risotto in the past and love it, but hate the amount of time it takes, the microwave method would definitely be worth trying. I will have to break down sometime and try it as well so I can share my thoughts. 

I ended up making a traditional risotto then folding in the butternut squash puree I had made from the extra squash in Monday night’s dinner.  I halved the recipe and used approximately 1 cup puree.  It worked out perfectly and the roasted squash was especially tasty.  Plus I saved money by not having to buy frozen puree!  It was good practice for making baby food.


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