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Frittata di risotto con zucca e zola (Frittata with butternut squash and gorgonzola)…OR, “Move over cheesecake, here comes frittata!”

March 10, 2011

This past Christmas I purchased one of these:

A beautiful, 8″ springform pan.  I was elected dessert-maker for our little Christmas dinner gathering, and I wanted to make, you guessed it, a cheesecake.  The classic springform pan user, and one of my all time favorite desserts, but one (how can it be?) I had never made before.  The cheesecake turned out beautifully, no complaints there.  But what do you do with a springform pan when cheesecake isn’t on the menu?  Now I know: you make a frittata.

I told you about my airport custom of buying a food magazine, and how last month this led me to discover La Cucina Italiana, a magazine I didn’t know existed but am ever so happy to have discovered.  This recipe is from their February issue.  You can also find it here.  I had intended to make this frittata with the leftover orange-rosemary risotto, sans butternut squash, but I was slow to reincorporate the leftovers and my hungry tummy got the better of my intentions one day at lunchtime.  I ate the leftovers and ended up making this frittata (almost) exactly as the recipe reads.  Ideally though (at least in my opinion), frittata is a brilliant way to use leftovers, and the possibilities are endless: rice/risotto, potatoes, veggies, meats, cheeses–even sweet options like the ricotta, pear and cinnamon frittata also featured in the February issue of La Cucina Italiana (man, I’ve got to try that one).  The basic principle is this: mix beaten raw egg with whatever you want, pour it in a pan (springform if you like, or a cast iron skillet) and bake until set but every so slightly runny on top.  Finish by broiling to firm up and darken the top.  Serve in pie-like slices.

As for this particular recipe, you may want to start your cooking by sympathizing with the plight of your squash.  Facing a sharp santoku knife would make me sweat, too.

(Joshua’s a good artist, don’t you think?)

Then get to it.  Make the risotto, let it cool a bit.  Beat the eggs.  Mix it all together.  Pout into the prepared pan.  Bake.  Top with gorgonzola.  Broil.  Serve.

I forgot to broil.  Our guest had arrived, Jacob was getting squirrely, and I thought I knew how the frittata story ended.  Once again I had neglected to fully imbibe the recipe from start to finish–our frittata was a little soft in the end, which is why you don’t get to see a picture of a slice.  It probably would have helped to let it set a bit before we dove in.  What can I say?  Three of us ate more than three-quarters of the “pie.”  It was good.  “It was,” Joshua said, “exactly what you would expect it to be.”  Risotto…but frittata.

The recipe (from La Cucina Italiana, with a couple of my own adaptations):

Frittata di risotto con zucca e zola (Frittata with butternut squash and gorgonzola)

Unsalted butter for greasing pan

3 tablespoons plain breadcrumbs

2 cups vegetable broth

2 cups water (for this 4 cups of liquid I used 4 cups of water and 1 organic chicken bouillon cube; I should have reduced this amount by 1/2 cup to allow for my addition of white wine)

1/2 cup white wine (optional–this is my addition)

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 small onion, thinly sliced

3 cups 1/4-inch cubes butternut squash (from a 1 1/4-pound squash)

1 cup Arborio rice

Freshly ground black pepper

3 1/2 ounces gorgonzola cheese, crumbled (about 3/4 cup)

6 large eggs

Fine sea salt

In a medium saucepan, combine broth and water; bring to a simmer, then remove from heat. Cover to keep warm.
In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium heat; add onion, reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add squash and ¼ teaspoon salt; cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 5 to 10 minutes.
Add rice to saucepan; increase heat to medium. Cook until rice is lightly toasted, 1 to 2 minutes. Add a few cranks of freshly ground pepper, then add the wine.  Cook until the wine has been absorbed, then add 1 1/2 cups broth mixture. Cook, stirring frequently, until broth is mostly absorbed, then add ½ cup more broth and cook, stirring, until mostly absorbed. Repeat, adding liquid in 1/2 cupfuls, until rice is tender yet still slightly firm to the bite. (You may not use all the liquid–I did and I think I overcooked the risotto.  It was a but soggy.) Stir in half of the cheese. Transfer risotto to a baking sheet; spread out and let stand until cool, about 15 minutes.
Heat oven to 350º with rack in middle. Grease an 8- to 9-inch springform pan with butter and coat bottom and sides with breadcrumbs, tapping out excess; set aside.
Transfer cooled risotto to a large bowl. Add eggs and 1/4 teaspoon salt; whisk to combine. Transfer mixture to prepared pan. Bake until frittata is set, about 1 hour.
Remove pan from oven, then heat broiler. Place pan under broiler until top of frittata is golden, about 3 minutes. Dollop remaining cheese on top of frittata, then cool in pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Run a thin knife around edge to loosen frittata, then remove side of pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.
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