Summer Zucchini Stuffed with Risotto and Wild Mushrooms
My fridge is overflowing with produce from the market. I can’t help myself when I go to the market and in spite of good intentions (“I am just going to see what they have”) I come back with bags and bags of beautiful seasonal produce. How can I not? I speak with the vendors who grow the produce themselves and then what? Just leave without buying? I don’t think so. And, think of the lovely foods I can make with it (this feels like a deja vu, I must have written this before, bear with me, it’s still current). Part of the reason it’s an issue is because it’s just my husband and I at home these days and I am not good at cooking for two. I think big and cook with abundance. Who knows, maybe someone will drop by:).
So today I had beautiful summer squash, the light green type. They where big and plump and very fresh. I also had a few (quite a few, really) gorgeous wild mushrooms foraged by Scott Moran, a professional forager who provides wild edibles to restaurants and to the public at the farmers market. The mushrooms were fresh but had to be used because they are very perishable. At first I thought Risotto with zucchini and wild mushrooms. Not bad, then I decided to make the risotto with the mushrooms and use it as stuffing for the squash. Stuffed vegetables are not as common here in North America. It’s more of a European (stuffed cabbage) and Mediterranean (stuffed peppers) thing. I haven’t stuffed any vegetables in a while so I was excited about the prospect.
The zucchini was fresh and full of moisture, the risotto was creamy, I topped it with cheese served it without any special sauce. You can make the quick and easy roasted red pepper sauce that would be nice with it. See below for suggestions. The recipe makes more risotto that you may need but of course it’s great the next day reheated and you can also make it into a couple of patties, works perfectly.
Making the risotto:
4 cups vegetable stock (or chicken stock if you are not vegetarian)
1 cup arborio rice (rice for risotto)
2 tablespoons butter
1 garlic clove, minced
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 large wild mushrooms, cleaned and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces (Lobster mushrooms, Chanterelles)
The squash flesh that you scooped from the centre (see below)
A handful of fresh herbs (chives, parsley, thyme), chopped
1/2 cup grated parmesan or pecorino, more for topping.
Salt and pepper
Work with two pots, one for the stock and one for the risotto. I place the stock on the back burner and make the risotto on the front burner.
Bring the stock to a boil, lower heat to low and place a ladle or a small measuring cup (1/4 cup) nearby.
In a 2 quart pot melt the butter, add the onion and cook until translucent.
Add the garlic and cook for a minute or two until fragrant.
Add the chopped mushrooms and stir for a few minutes over medium heat, adding a little butter or olive oil if the mixture seems dry (or add a little stock).
Once the mushrooms have softened add the rice and stir for 2-3 minutes to coat the grains in the butter.
Now begin to add the hot stock, one small ladle at a time, stirring constantly. Once the liquid is absorbed by the rice, add a second ladleful of stock and continue this way until the rice is cooked to your liking. Half way through add the handful of herbs.
When the rice is cooked through taste and adjust salt and pepper.
Add 1/2 cup grated parmesan or pecorino to the risotto.
Preparing the squash:
2-4 squashes (You will need one or one half squash per person, depending on how you are serving it).
Wash the squash and cut in half lengthwise.
With a spoon or an melon baller remove the inside from each half, leaving a cavity supported by the sides of the squash *see image).
Rub the squash with a little olive oil inside the cavity and outside as well.
Assembling the dish:
Place squash halves on a foil lined baking sheet.
Spoon risotto into each squash halve, mounting it nicely on top.
Spoon grated parmesan over the rice.
Bake, covered, in a 375℉ for 20 minutes, then uncover and finish cooking. It is ready when a knife can easily pierce the squash.
Remove from heat and let rest for a few minutes.
Drizzle roasted pepper sauce over or serve as is.
Quick roasted red pepper sauce:
1 jar fire roasted red peppers, drained well
1-2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper
Place all ingredients in a small food processor and blend until smooth.