Monday, January 04, 2010

Meat free Monday #1 - Roasted butternut squash with pearl barley risotto, baby beets and coriander puree

Made any new years resolutions? I'm realistisic and only make one or two. That way you're more likely to stick to them and move forwards. Like meat free Monday. Saw the concept in a few blogs last year. After a little reminder here just before new year, I thought why not try it. For a whole year.

After 35 days of busyness from the end of November up to last Saturday night, this morning I was hitting the carbs again gearing up for the next round. Having a personal breakfast chef is something I would reccommend to anyone. Mine (my dad, who's been helping over new year) cooked up mushroom omlette and fondant potato this morning. Definitely a good start to the new week.

Lunch was tomato soup (left from children's meal on NY eve) with sweetcorn fritter (left from Saturday night).

Tonight having a (raw) butternut squash left from NYE also I thought I'd try this. I like the idea of an edible bowl - like the fennel and apple bread bowls I made for the mussells a few weeks ago. Some people may tire of peeling squash - there are some great tips here if that is the case. When it comes to cooking for myself, it has to be said that I too like it to be as quick as possible as there's always so much else to do. So why not cook the squash in it's skin without peeling it? I cut the top part off and kept it to use for something else, and just scooped out the middle with an ice cream scoop. I'm pretty sure I remember a Jamie Oliver version like this, where it was halved, filled and tied back together with string to roast.... but maybe I'm wrong. This is an even quicker version at least.

I sat it on a few bay leaves (frosty ones picked outside my kitchen door) and drizzled on a little olive oil & scaterring of thyme, s & p, and roasted it (the oven heat helping to defrost the inside of my house).

When it was semi soft I took out the sprig of thyme in the middle and added the risotto (pearl barley risotto base, mixed with roasted vegetables, coriander, parmesan, white wine, wild rice, toasted pinenuts, chickpeas, clotted cream [marscapone had run out] and lemon juice). As I had all these ingredients around in the fridge I mixed them cold. As the squash roasts a bit longer the risotto in the middle heats through and blends together - a rather rustic version which is fine if you're just cooking at home for yourselves. If I was serving this to guests I would add the risotto in warm after the squash was completely cooked.

Don't throw the seeds away either. I keep meaning to save some to try germinating them and growing my own butternut squash (easy to do this with chillis too), but I like roasting them too. Nice to add when you're making granola, or to sprinkle over roasted butternut squash, or just to nibble on while you're busy in the kitchen....

The advantage of using pearl barley rather than risotto rice for this is it holds it shape where as risotto rice reaches a critical point and once past can become a puree - not so good. It also has a much higher fibre content ( 2 1/2 times the amount to white rice) which has obvious health benefits.

Eat with a spoon and fork so you can scoop out the roasted squash from the skin - it's comfort food after all.....

Roasted squash like this makes a good soup bowl too.
P.S. There's other posts to come from Christmas & new year, but they'll have to wait a while - so much else to do.

10 comments:

Sam said...

I like the idea of an edible squash bowl, the risotto sounds really good too!

I hope you had a good Christmas!

James said...

Thanks. Busiest Christmas & new year ever. You?

Lynn said...

I've not tried that but it looks rather yummy :)

James said...

Thanks.... nor had I till Monday, and it was made with everything I had around rather than buying ingredients specially.

Chef Fresco said...

Nice creation - looks tasty!

History of Greek Food said...

I love your barley risotto, but I am intrigued by the edible bowls. Fennel and apples (and quinces) sound like heaven on a plate!

Jan said...

Love that squash bowl! Love the risotto too - yum!

Growling Tummy said...

You say I (growlingtummy.com) tire of peeling butternut squash? I don't! I simply gave some pointers to people who do. It can seem like a daunting vegetable...

James said...

Thanks for your comment Growling Tummy. Thinking of people cooking at home after a long day at work I just mentioned some people tire of peeling butternut squash. You had mentioned it too on your blog post (though it's obviously not a problem to you). Your tips there are helpful - I thought they would be helpful for everyone else too, so I linked them. I'll edit that bit to make it a bit cleaer - it had been such a long month by the time I wrote that.....

Kari said...

Thanks James :) Love your blog. I am going to try those parsnip chips!