It’s the very end of winter and by this time of year, my garden stores are running frightfully low. Thanks to many hours of labour, we’ve been enjoying the summer season’s bounty throughout the winter months. Spaghetti sauce, frozen peas, canned tomatoes, potatoes, pumpkins and squash have rounded out the menu during the coldest months of the year.
There’s clearly a reason why squash was such an invaluable crop for the first peoples- this was the food that could bridge the gap between abundant early winter stores and the spring time when warm weather offered the first early vegetables. March is garden purgatory, that uncomfortable time when nothing is grows yet and your pantry is bare.
Of course the modern grocery industry has all by removed any fear of a March starvation from our everyday worries but as I like to eat seasonally, it’s still nice to understand and appreciate how foods are linked to yearly timelines. Why not eat accordingly?
1 c. pumpkin puree (you can make this from scratch or simply buy a can at the grocery store)
5 c. broth
3/4 c. white wine
2 arborio rice
1 green pepper, washed, seeded and quartered
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
Massage olive oil into onion, green pepper and garlic. If making pumpkin puree from scratch, cut squash in half, seed and place cut side down on a baking sheet with onion, green pepper and garlic. Bake your vegetables in the oven at 350 for about 30 minutes (until you can poke a finger into the flesh of the pumpkin and it produces an indent).
Place broth, 1 c. of cooked pumpkin innards, green pepper, onion, salt, garlic, thyme and white wine into a blender and whiz until smooth. Then pour these goodies into a pot along with the stock and bring to a gentle covered simmer.
In a separate medium sized pot, heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil over medium/ low heat. Pour in the rice and stir until well-coated. Enjoy how the outside of the rice grain becomes translucent revealing the germ inside. Slowly, pour a ladle-full of your pumpkin liquid over the rice and stir constantly. Once the liquid has been absorbed, pour another ladle of pumpkin mixture over the rice and repeat. Continue this process of pouring, stirring, absorbing until all of the pumpkin ‘juice’ has been cooked into the rice (this should take about 20 minutes).
Remove from heat and stir in the cheese until melted. Serve to hungry loved ones and enjoy how it makes them smile.