It's All About the Vegetables

Jean MacKenzie, Weavers Way Mt. Airy Produce Manager

Recipe: Red Kuri Squash Risotto 

The hardest part of this recipe is cutting the squash, which has a very tough and thick skin.

  • 1 red kuri squash 
  • 1/4 cup olive oil 
  • 2 cups arborio rice 
  • 4 cups vegetable stock 
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan (optional for vegans)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup white wine 
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter (or Earth Balance)
  • Chopped parsley
  • Salt and pepper

Peel and cut up the squash and drizzle olive oil, salt and pepper on it.  Roast at 350 degrees F. for about an hour. Meanwhile, oil a pan and cook the chopped onion and rice over medium heat, stirring, until the rice is toasty and the onion is opaque. Heat the stock to boiling and add stock and wine slowly, letting the rice absorb the liquid, for about 15 minutes. Stir in butter and cheese and squash last. Add parsley and salt and pepper to taste.

Thanksgiving is the biggest food holiday of the year: Almost everyone in America celebrates Thanksgiving with a nearly identical special meal featuring a few very specific foods. Shoppers buy about 30 percent more food than usual, and apparently consume most of it.

And after the turkey, it’s all about the produce. For weeks I’ve been scanning weather patterns and market reports to see if we’re going to encounter any shortages this year. Not having enough Brussels sprouts or as great a variety of sweet potatoes as usual is sure to make my holiday less jolly. 

It being harvest time and all, vegans and vegetarians can overeat to absurd extremes on Thanksgiving Day as easily as carnivores. However, since they’re not consuming all that tryptophan and animal fat, they’re a lot less likely to fall asleep in front of the football game, and more likely to be awake and available for post-meal clean-up. For this reason, I strongly recommend inviting a few vegans and vegetarians even if — especially if — you’re not one yourself. Just a suggestion.

What to serve them? Personally, I could make a meal out of mashed Yukon Gold potatoes or sweet potatoes. But for vegetable entrees, you probably want to concentrate on recipes that include winter squash, chopped walnuts and mushrooms. Side dishes can be easily adapted to be vegan with the substitution of almond milk for dairy milk or cream. A friend made an awesome hash from Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, and red onions, roasted with olive oil, which I plan to replicate at this year’s meal. I also usually make twice-baked Delicata squash boats using Yukons mashed with a touch of maple syrup and cumin, and topped with caramelized walnuts. Who needs butter?