This recipe, though not spicy and not exactly according to the directions, turned out pretty decent! I give all the credit to my cooking buddy, Tobi, who fixed several of my mindless mishaps happening due to a brain shut down after the 5 o’clock workday was over. He, again, found the recipe courtesy of the Epicurious app.
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1 2 1/2- to 3-pound spaghetti squash,halved and seeded
1 cup vegetable oil
20 whole fresh sage leaves plus 1 1/2 tsp chopped fresh sage
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 1/2 cups good-quality canned vegetable broth (such as Swanson)
3 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups arborio rice or medium-grain rice
1/4 cup raspberry jam or medium-dry Sherry or Marsala
3/4 cup pine nuts, toasted, divided
Shaved Parmesan cheese (optional)
4 ounces crisply cooked coarsely crumbled thinly sliced pancetta (optional)
Start out by cutting the squash in half and removing the seeds. Sprinkle olive oil onto a roasting pan and place the two squash halves face down in an oven at 400 degrees Farenheit for one hour. When cool enough, scrape out the spaghetti-like pale yellow strands of squash into a mixing bowl and discard the rind. If you have children, they will love to help out with this part as the insides are crazy piles of stringy mush. Just be careful, as this is hot.
While the squash is roasting heat up the one cup of vegetable oil in a frying pan. When the temperature reaches 365 degrees F on a deep-fat thermometer, drop the sage in in batches for 3-5 seconds or until crispy removing with a slotted spoon and placing on paper towel to drain.
In a large soup pot add in a Tbsp of olive oil with the onions,stirring often, allowing to cook until softened. Stir in the garlic and chopped sage heating until the steam becomes aromatic, around a minute. Next, plop in the golden squash, vegetable broth and water. Simmer for twenty minutes to blend the flavors into the broth.
In a blender in batches, puree the soupy mixture. Watch your hands, this is very hot. Transfer the portions of soup to a bowl as you finish blending. When all the brew is completely liquid, return to the pot to reheat.
At this point in the recipe, I realized I was following the completely wrong directions and making soup, not risotto. They both had pancetta, pine nuts, kabocha squash and sage. It made for an excellent blend of flavors into a scrumptous winter or fall soup. It wasn’t too thick like pumpkin soup can often be and not as sweet as pumpkin, but more perfumed, dense and herby. All the recipe would need from here is a little salt and pepper and sherry if desired. We decided to go ahead and continue attempting to make this into a risotto, which still came out fulfilling.
To continue into a risotto, stir in sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. I accidentally dumped quite a few whole white crystals of sea salt into the pot. It needed a bit of flavor, but that was just a notch below too much. So, I learned from Tobi that to counteract the saltiness I just added, add a sweet. I also didn’t realize cooking wine and sherry are two different infusions entirely. Without sherry or a decent red wine in the house, he added in raspberry jam. It brought the salty nature to a rest and upped the flavor combination of sweet, sage-herb, and garlic.
Next, I would recommend cooking the arborio rice in another pot, but we threw it right into the bubbling liquid and waited until it cooked to soft texture (could have cooked a little longer, but that will be a learning lesson for the future). If you cook the rice separate, you will want to still add it into the liquid and cook for a few minutes to meld the sweet soup flavor into each rice grain cooking until everything is almost to a creamy-like state.
As you spoon your meal into individual bowls, each person can choose to add a little pancetta, roasted pine nuts or shaved parmesan on top. If your dish remains a tad less oversalted than mine, this will increase the savory, salty, cheesy aspect of the rice-only meal. It is great as an appetizer, but filling enough to be an entire meal with a salad on the side. Another idea is to leave the items in the dish whole instead of blending them for a variety of texture with the malleableness of the rice.