I love the whole concept of seasonal food, and won’t even eat at a restaurant that serves strawberry salads year around. I’m not kidding. Of course, these days, one can find asparagus in the fall, and tomatoes in the winter. There’s just no guaranteeing that they’re good quality.
To me, it’s more than what grows during the various seasons. There’s a whole aura that comes with the cold stillness of winter, or the sprouting excitement of spring, the full-fledged abundance of summer produce, and the colors, smells, and feelings of the approaching holidays in the fall. I love them all, but fall is my favorite. I love chilly mornings, wearing sweaters, the sound of football on tv and the changing leaves. Mostly, of course, it’s the lovely food of the season.
I always stock up on nuts like hazelnuts and fruits like dried figs and cherries. I start making chutneys, plus terrines and patés. There are more squashes and legumes and the meals become more substantial. By October I’ve already gone through recipes in my holidays folder, getting menu ideas for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Maybe I’ll decide to have a party.
Last year I wrote a recipe post called A Spring Risotto, which involved a lemony goat cheese risotto with peas, topped with grilled salmon and some basil. I loved that it basically screamed “spring!”
Now that it’s fall I’ve created a risotto with pumpkin purée, roasted Brussels sprouts, and Gruyère, topped with Italian sausages. A very easy and delicious dish. And it screams “fall!”
A Fall Risotto
8 ounces Brussels sprouts, medium sized
Garlic-infused oil, or olive oil
2 packages of 5 Italian sausages, or 10 total
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Splash of white wine
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 shallots, diced
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
2 3/4 cups chicken broth (approximate)
3/4 cup pumpkin or butternut squash purée
6 ounces grated Gruyere
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Shave the Brussels sprouts using a mandoline and your steel glove, about 1/4” thick. Place them on a baking sheet and sprinkle on the oil, salt, and pepper generously. Roast in the oven until nicely browned, about 6 to 7 minutes, turning once. Set aside and let cool.
Meanwhile, heat the tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausages and brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Add a splash of wine, lower the heat, cover the skillet, and let the sausages finish cooking for about 10 minutes. Keep covered.
Heat a medium-sized pot over medium heat. Add the butter and let melt. Add the shallots and sauté for about 4-5 minutes. Add the rice to the pot and stir it around in the butter and shallots until all the grains are coated. Pour in the white wine. Stir as the rice cooks in the wine and it gradually gets absorbed.
Without letting the rice go completely dry, add some of the broth, about 1/3 cup at a time, and repeat the stirring process, alternating with adding broth and stirring. Turn down the heat if you think the rice is cooking too fast; it’s always best to go slowly.
When the rice is almost fully cooked, stir in the purée and cheese.
Cook for another few minutes, then gently stir in the Brussels sprouts. Let heat through, then season with salt and white pepper to taste.
If necessary, reheat the sausages. To serve, Place risotto in a shallow bowl and top with one or two sausages.
You could always use other sausages, like Merguez or Polska Kielbasa.