Risotto-filled acorn squash

    45 min

    Bring stuffed squash up to date with this risotto filling, richly flavoured with duck or chicken livers, red wine, garlic and sage. Full of iron and vitamins, duck and chicken livers are nutritious and surprisingly cheap freezer standby ingredients that are excellent for adding lots of flavour to vegetable and carbohydrate-based dishes.

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    Serves: 4 

    • 2 acorn squash, about 675 g (1½ lb) each
    • 200 g (7 oz) duck or chicken livers, thawed if frozen
    • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 onion, finely chopped
    • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
    • 170 g (6 oz) button mushrooms, thinly sliced
    • 85 g (3 oz) risotto rice
    • 200 ml (7 fl oz) vegetable stock, preferably home-made
    • 200 ml (7 fl oz) red wine
    • 2 tbsp chopped fresh sage
    • 1 tbsp tomato purée
    • salt and pepper
    • To garnish
    • 2 tomatoes, diced
    • fresh sage leaves

    Prep:25min  ›  Cook:20min  ›  Ready in:45min 

    1. Cut the squashes in half lengthways. Trim a little off the base of each half so that it stands upright without wobbling. Discard the seeds and fibres, then scoop out the flesh to leave a shell about 1 cm (½ in) thick. Chop the squash flesh and set it aside.
    2. Pat the livers dry on kitchen paper and coarsely chop them, discarding any white cores. Heat half the oil in a saucepan, add the livers and fry over a high heat for 2 minutes, stirring, until browned. Use a draining spoon to remove the livers from the pan and set them aside.
    3. Add the remaining 1 tbsp of oil to the pan and fry the onion, garlic and mushrooms, stirring, for 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Stir in the rice, stock, wine, chopped sage, tomato purée and seasoning. Add the chopped squash. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and cover the pan. Simmer for 10–12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the rice is tender.
    4. Meanwhile, season the squash shells and place them cut sides down in a steamer. Cover and cook over boiling water for 10–12 minutes or until just tender.
    5. Return the livers to the pan and stir them into the rice mixture. Cook for 2 minutes to reheat the livers.
    6. Place the squash shells on serving plates and fill with the risotto. Garnish with the diced tomatoes and sage leaves, and serve. A refreshing salad of crisp radicchio and tomatoes goes well with this dish.

    Some more ideas

    *Use very finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves or 2 small bay leaves instead of the chopped sage. Discard the bay leaves before piling the risotto into the squash shells. *Stuff 8 beefsteak tomatoes with the risotto. Cut a slice off the top of each tomato, scoop out the soft centre (use this in pasta sauces or casseroles) and place the tomato shells in a shallow ovenproof dish. Fill with the rice mixture and replace the tomato tops, then bake at 190°C (375°F, gas mark 5) for 12–15 minutes. *The risotto also makes a delicious filling for red peppers. Cut the stalk ends off 4 large red peppers and scoop out the seeds. Steam the pepper shells in the same way as the squash shells, until tender. Fill, replace the pepper tops if you like, and serve piping hot. *Replace the mushrooms with 170 g (6 oz) courgettes, diced, and 1 red pepper, seeded and diced.

    Plus points

    *Low intake of iron and the anaemia that results are among the most common causes of nutritional problems in the UK. This dish provides iron from the livers and vitamin C from the acorn squash and tomato purée; the vitamin C helps to ensure that the iron is absorbed efficiently by the body. *Acorn squash supplies vitamin A (from beta-carotene, the pigment that gives the squash flesh its rich colour). *Rice is an ideal food to include in a healthy diet as it is a starchy carbohydrate and low in fat.

    Each serving provides

    B1, B2, B6, B12, C, niacin, folate, copper, iron, A, E, potassium, zinc, calcium

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