I have long been plagued by a sensitive stomach. Could there be a worse predicament for a chef? Too much butter, pain. Too much meat, pain. Too much cheese, pain. Luckily wine does me fine or else it would be a sad life! I find that I eat mostly vegetables, eggs, whole grains, nuts, and bits of meat. Yeah yeah, sounds really healthy and all, but do you know what a huge pain in the ass it is to go out for an epic meal and feel like you want to curl up into a ball afterwards? And pay good money for all that stomachache?
If you know me you know I am a huge believer in acupuncture. Within a few sessions I went from oftentimes getting really sick after a big meal to being able to handle just about anything. Pretty frickin miraculous I would say. I now use acupuncture to help me with fertility (yes! been trying for a year now, please send baby vibes our way), to balance stress, and anything else that may be feeling off. And while I find I can eat most things without difficulty (still only in moderation though), I still try to find alternatives to rich dishes. Which is why I started making this Kuri Squash Risotto! It is creamy and delightful, while only having a fraction of the butter and cheese of a normal risotto. And just to up the ante I use einkorn to make it instead of arborio.
2 Kuri Squash (can substitute any winter squash, I just like this one best for it's softness and color)
1 Leek - thinly sliced in half moons and washed
1 Fennel - small diced
2 bunches Tuscan Kale - pulled off of stem
7 cups Chicken Stock
1/2 cup White Wine
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 1/2 cups Einkorn or other grain (any spelt will work. Larger grains will take much longer to cook. If you get a big spelt, I recommend parboiling it for 20-30 minutes before starting below)
Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds and lay it face down on a sheet tray. I like to put parchment down first for easier clean up. Roast the squash at 400 degrees for 50 minutes until soft. When cool scoop out the flesh and discard the skin.
In a large pot add a few tablespoons of olive oil. Begin by cooking the leek and fennel. Cook over medium heat about ten minutes until translucent. Add the einkorn and stir until well coated. Cook 3 minutes until a bit toasted. Add the white wine and deglaze, stirring constantly. Add 2 cups of chicken stock. Add a large pinch of salt and pepper.
Now you will be adding the remaining chicken stock one cup at a time until it is all absorbed. This will take about an hour. In the meantime, set a small pot to boil with salted water and blanch the kale for five minutes until tender. Drain. Chop into thin strips and place in a bowl. Season with olive oil and salt.
Once all of the chicken stock is absorbed, taste for seasoning. Add more salt and pepper as needed. Now stir in the squash and the parmesan. Taste again for seasoning. See how creamy and amazing it is!!
To serve, place a few scoops of the risotto in a bowl and toss with a pile of the kale, another little shaving of parmesan and maybe a drizzle of olive oil. Enjoy!