I went to the store to buy some soup…

…but they were all out of stock.

I know, I know. That one was lame even for me.

All this fall weather has got me wanting warm, stick-to-your-ribs comfort food. But of course, being me, though I want a huge batch of mac n’ cheese, I feel awful after eating it. So, I’ve been finding alternatives for my favorite comfort foods, that don’t completely wipe me out.

These last few weeks, I’ve jumped on the Meatless Monday bandwagon, and I love it. Basically this movement promotes having one meal a week that is completely meatless. I like Monday because of the alliteration, but you can technically do it any day you’d like. If you’re a strict Roman Catholic, then you probably are already do no-meat Fridays (even when it’s not Lent). But, if not, I highly suggest taking it into consideration. Also, bonus pun: What do you call a sleepwalking priest? A roamin’ catholic.  *Ba dum krst*

As Americans, most of us do not eat right. I’m not just talking about the junk food. I’m talking about including fresh fruits and veggies in your diet. If you’re reading a food blog, I’m most likely preaching to the choir, but it’s worth putting it out there. Not only is a Meatless Monday good for your waistline, it’s also good for your wallet–which is something we can all get behind.

Anyway, back to my meatless post. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, when I was in New Zealand we would have Family Dinners. One of the flatmates would make dinner and we’d all eat together. When Claire would cook, her specialty was risotto. Shrimp and pea, or chicken. They were delicious. They were comforting. They were stick-to-your-ribs. I loved it. The flat loved it. She really had a knack for making risotto.

I wanted to do something similar that incorporated the flavors of fall, and was lightened up. There is usually a lot of salt and cheese and other delicious goodies in a true risotto. I combined two recipes that I’d been playing around with; one was for butternut squash baked risotto, and the other was for an apple and swiss chard risotto. The flavors worked well together and when topped with a bit of Pecorino Romano cheese, it was divine. It had less salt, less fat, no meat, and it still tasted delicious. This is why I rework my recipes and experiment. To see what I can do with food for the betterment of my health and that of my family and  loved ones.

Butternut Squash, Kale, and Apple Baked Risotto
Adapted from Food & Wine, and Meatless : more than 200 of the very best vegetarian recipes

Ingredients
100_1975

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 butternut squash, peeled, and cut into 1 inch cubes
4 cups vegetable stock
1 bunch kale, washed, tough stems removed and cut into 1/2
inch strips
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced
salt and pepper
Parmigiano-reggiano, or Pecorino Romano

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a medium Dutch oven, or oven safe pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and sage. Cook, while stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Add rice and cook, stirring frequently, until the edges are translucent. This takes about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Add the wine and cook, still stirring, until completely absorbed, about 2 minutes.
  6. Add squash and stock. Bring the mixture to boil.
  7. Stir in kale.
  8. Cover with the lid and transfer to the oven. Bake for 15 minutes.
  9. After 15 minutes, add the sliced apple and stir into the mixture. Replace the cover and bake for an additional 5-7 minutes. The rice should be tender and have absorbed most of the liquid.
  10. Serve hot, sprinkled with cheese.100_1978
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