Squash Risotto with Buttered Apples & Sage: Ardenwood Historic Farms • Fall SF Bay Area Day Trip

Ardenwood Farms is like Colonial Williamsburg Lite. And not having a large family to pile out of a mini-van at Ardenwood Farms made us feel a bit like adults without kids at Disney Land.  We decided next time that we needed to rent some children for this colonial fall farm excursion on our SF Bay Area Fall Day Trip (or maybe parents would rent us, aka babysitters).  The reason we probably felt this awkward was because we still joined in all of the family activities without a family in tow.  I swear we didn’t jump ahead in line to make an herb sachet, or hop onto a pump-car on the train tracks, eat fruit off the trees, or take more than our share of popcorn from the sampling station or anything. However, jumping from one step of the kid filled straw bale pyramid to another step, while holding my husband’s hand instead of a small child’s hand, was kind of cute, I guess, like a first date or something.  After that initial experience, I was a bit underwhelmed and ready to go after just viewing the pumpkin patch.  Then, I was glad we stayed and paid to enter the historic farm with actors and everything.  We did opt out of the family filled spooky railroad ride and walked ahead to the historic farm re-enactment portion and watched the blacksmith and kids making herb filled sachets.   Then we wandered around the farm eating walnuts  from one tree and an apple from another and then checked out the animals and picked our own popcorn cobs from the cornfield.   From a mom visitor we found out that the weekend before there was a huge harvest event for families that attracted thousands of people.  We were then relieved that we hit the farm on a rainy Sunday, free from the crowds.

On the way out we stopped at the Perry’s organic farm market and bought a winter squash and a kabocha squash for our fall cooking tradition.  This year’s recipe happens to be a Gluten-Free Recipe.  Check out last year’s SF Bay Area Fall Day Trip yummy recipe Pumpkin Tagliatelle Recipe from baking pumpkins we bought at a pumpkin patch on HWY 1.

Squash Risotto with Buttered Apples, Creme Fraiche & Sage Recipe

Inspired by a dish from Gabrielle Cafe in Santa Cruz

Squash & Apple Preparation:

  • 1 winter squash, small kabocha squash, or small butternut squash, peeled, and cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds, smashed
  • 1 tsp chili powder (and a few dashes of Cayenne too)
  • 1 tsp thyme (dried or fresh)
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 TBSP of butter
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 2 apples, peeled, and cut to 1/4″ pieces
  • 1 TBSP butter
  • 1 TBSP Mascarpone (or cream cheese)
  • 3 TBSP butter
  • 1/2 cup fresh Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh sage (or dried)

Preheat oven to 400F.  In a small baking dish combine the squash pieces, olive oil, and spices.  Take a piece of wax paper and crumble it up, dip it in water and place it over top of the squash pieces and tuck the sides into the squash.  Bake for about 30 minutes.   Now start the risotto recipe (see recipe below).  Mash the squash when done and set aside.

Saute the apple in butter until little brown spots appear on the apple pieces.

When the risotto is done (see recipe below), stir in the smashed baked squash, sauteed apples, mascarpone, butter, Parmesan cheese, and sage. I then like to pack the risotto into a small round (even a small rice bowl works well) bowl and then tip it over onto the plates to give the risotto a shape.

Serve with Parmesan and fried sage on top if you like!

Jamie Oliver’s Basic Risotto Recipe

!!!* I halved this recipe to combine with above ingredients!!!

• approx• 1.1 litres/2 pints stock (chicken, fish or vegetable as appropriate)
• 1 knob of butter
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 large onion, finely chopped
• 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
• ½ a head of celery, finely chopped
• 400g/14oz risotto rice
• 2 wineglasses of dry white vermouth (dry Martini or Noilly Prat) or dry white wine
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 70g/2½oz butter
• 115g/4oz freshly grated Parmesan cheese

stage 1

Heat the stock. In a separate pan heat the olive oil and butter, add the onions, garlic and celery, and fry very slowly for about 15 minutes without colouring. When the vegetables have softened, add the rice and turn up the heat.

stage 2

The rice will now begin to lightly fry, so keep stirring it. After a minute it will look slightly translucent. Add the vermouth or wine and keep stirring — it will smell fantastic. Any harsh alcohol flavours will evaporate and leave the rice with a tasty essence.

stage 3

Once the vermouth or wine has cooked into the rice, add your first ladle of hot stock and a good pinch of salt. Turn down the heat to a simmer so the rice doesn’t cook too quickly on the outside. Keep adding ladlefuls of stock, stirring and almost massaging the creamy starch out of the rice, allowing each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next. This will take around 15 minutes. Taste the rice — is it cooked? Carry on adding stock until the rice is soft but with a slight bite. Don’t forget to check the seasoning carefully. If you run out of stock before the rice is cooked, add some boiling water.

stage 4

Remove from the heat and add the butter and Parmesan. Stir well. Place a lid on the pan and allow to sit for 2 minutes. This is the most important part of making the perfect risotto, as this is when it becomes outrageously creamy and oozy like it should be. Eat it as soon as possible, while the risotto retains its beautiful texture.


Lemon-Truffle Vinaigrette
Adapted from The Balthazar Cookbook

2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
¼ tsp salt, or to taste
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
6 Tbs mild olive oil
2 Tbs white truffle oil

In a medium bowl, combine the lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Slowly add the olive and truffle oils, whisking constantly. Continue to whisk until the dressing is thoroughly emulsified. The vinaigrette will keep, refrigerated in a sealed container, for one week.

2 comments… add one
  • Yum! This risotto recipe is definitely on my to-make-soon list!

  • Hey Kellie – the restaurant where i got the idea for the recipe uses Creme Fraiche instead of Mascaopone.

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