Sometimes food is just about comfort. It’s not about fuel, nourishment, or appearance. It’s not about being clever or making a statement. Sometimes food is just for you and your feelings whatever they may be. And today’s Risotto Stuffed Squash with Fried Sage is a prime example of this comfort-forward, hide-from-the-world food. And how do I know this? Well, I’m currently eating the leftovers, hood up, hiding from the world. And it’s every bit as wonderfully pathetic as you’re imagining it to be.
I don’t usually share a lot of personal tidbits on this blog. I don’t because I figure there are very few people who would care to read them. And while I’m sure there are those of you who would fervently shake their heads and encourage me to let it all out, I don’t think you really want that. I don’t say that in a defeatist way, I say that in an understanding way. One’s own emotions are messy enough, adding a perfect stranger’s less than perfect feelings to the mix is enough to crush any spirit.
So, I will refrain from spirit-crushing and simply say this: I am in the midst of change and boy, do I hate change. This shifting in my life is neither good nor bad, it is simply inevitable. And as an unreformed control-freak, I’m finding my inability to predict the future to be inconvenient, abhorrent, and downright annoying. And I can say from experience that when that particular cocktail of emotion wanders into your life, it’s best to shift your thoughts to creamy, warm, edible things, like today’s Risotto Stuffed Squash with Raclette and Crispy Sage.
Now, that we have the cryptic stuff out of the way, let’s talk about the reason we’re all here: risotto. You know, I used to be afraid of risotto. It was always described to me as some laborious exercise with a high margin of error. In a way, I’m glad I had this initial impression of risotto because, for me, a time-consuming recipe is always a draw. So, instead of being dissuaded, I jumped right in. And when I did I found that risotto was neither laborious nor difficult. Yeah, that’s right! If that’s what you’ve heard, you have been misled. Allow me to show you the light.
While not difficult and wonderfully forgiving, risotto is definitely time-consuming and most of that time is consumed by repetitive action. If you’re one of those people who cannot abide too much of the same, skip this recipe and hold tight for the quesadilla I have waiting in the wings. If you find repetition completely and utterly comforting, well, this Bud’s for you.
Most people characterize risotto as near-constant stirring. And they describe it that way because that’s what it requires. My hot tip for making risotto stirring a pleasurable experience? Drink some wine and invite someone into the kitchen with you. Risotto-making requires very little of your attention and brainpower, so enjoyable social experiences are not only possible, they are encouraged.
Another thing, making risotto is definitely a form of aromatherapy. When I was stirring my way towards today’s Risotto Stuffed Squash, I was continually hit with notes of simmering Parmesan rind, onions, and white wine. Honestly, this heady bouquet is capable of stopping anxiety in its tracks.
Now, it would’ve been all too easy to stop at risotto. But my inner-drama-queen would not have it, I needed more comfort. Moar! So, what says eating your feelings more than stuffed squash covered in cheese? Well, that’s easy. Oreos dipped in peanut butter, but it’s best not to go down that road.
So, while I was stirring my pecorino-accented risotto, I baked an acorn squash in the oven. You will notice from the pictures, I left the seeds in during roasting. This is simply a personal preference, I find the seeds are easier to remove post-roasting, but you do you. From there it was just a matter of spooning the risotto into the squash and topping them with slices of raclette and boom! They were ready for the broiler.
As a final flourish, I decided to top my Risotto Stuffed Squash with fried sage. This step is completely optional and I totally don’t blame you if you want to skip it. Sometimes you just don’t need one more dirty frying pan. But if you’re into it, I will say I think you’ve made the right choice. Fried sage does not require much skill to pull off and the texture and flavor are out-of-this-world. The only thing I would say is, start the sage in a cold pan with olive oil. Starting with a cold pan gives you a lot more control from the getgo. This is particularly important if you’re working with a stove that tends to run hot.
So that’s everything you need to know about today’s Risotto Stuffed Squash. It delivers ooey, gooey, cheesy goodness! Basically, it’s the cable knit sweater of the risotto world.
Risotto Stuffed Squash with Raclette and Fried Sage
- 1 acorn squash split in half
- 4 tbsp olive oil divided
- Fresh ground pepper
- 6-8 cups low sodium vegetable stock
- 1 Parmigiano Reggiano rind** optional
- 2 bay leaves preferably fresh
- 1 yellow onion diced
- 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1 1/2 cups pecorino shredded
- 4 slices raclette
- 6 sage leaves
- finishing salt I used Maldon's Smoked Salt
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Place the acorn squash, cut-side-up, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle the squash with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and sprinkle with the salt and pepper.
- Place the squash in the oven and roast for 50-60 minutes, rotating once half-way through..
- While the squash is roasting, pour the vegetable stock into a large saucepan. Add the bay leaves and Parmigiano Reggiano rind to the pot and place over high heat. Bring the stock to a boil then reduce to a gentle simmer.
- Pour 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large, deep skillet. Place over medium-low heat and add the onion. Once the onion begins to leech liquid, sprinkle with salt and saute until just translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Stir the rice into the pan and increase the heat to medium. Saute the rice until it begins to crackle and becomes slightly transparent, about 3-4 minutes. Pour in the wine and stir until the liquid is absorbed.
- Spoon two ladles-full of the stock over the rice and stir until the liquid is completely absorbed. Repeat this step until the stock is mostly gone and the rice is creamy and tender. Take the rice off of the heat and stir in the pecorino. Taste and season with salt accordingly.
- Once the squash is roasted, take it out of the oven and scoop out and discard the seeds. Fill each squash half with as much risotto as it can hold and cover it with two slices of raclette.
- Place the stuffed squash under the broiler and broil until the cheese has melted and begun to brown. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes before serving.
- While the squash is under the broiler, pour the remaining olive oil into a small skillet. Add the sage leaves and place over medium heat. Fry the sage until it just begins to curl, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer the sage to a plate lined with paper towel and sprinkle with finishing salt.
- Garnish the stuffed squash with a few leaves of the fried sage and serve immediately.