Saturday, September 21, 2013

Day 16: Butternut Squash Calzones with Walnut Sage Risotto and Balsamic Reduction

If you've been reading my posts, you know that I really wasn't ready for fall. I think I am slowly coming to terms with it. I'm even a little bit excited for it! I know it is actually the day before fall officially begins, but I am posting this today so that you have time to grab the ingredients to make these calzones in celebration of the first day of autumn! They are stuffed with butternut squash, kale, balsamic, walnuts, and sage. They're pretty much autumn hot pockets. 

I like these because despite the looks of them they're actually amazingly healthy. They have butternut squash and kale, which together provide lots of vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, and calcium. But the best part is the risotto. Whereas the non-vegan version would have some protein but also saturated fat and cholesterol the vegan version--tofu, walnuts, and pine nuts--replaces the saturated fat and cholesterol with healthy omega-3 fatty acids (plus adds a unique and fall-ish flavor!).  

Roasted Butternut Squash Calzones with Sage-Walnut Risotto and Balsamic-Agave Reduction
Serves 4
Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

For the butternut squash:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium butternut squash, cubed
salt and pepper to taste

For the Balsamic Kale
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 garlic cloves
1 bunch of kale, rinsed and chopped
2 tablespoons balsamic

For the Walnut-Sage Risotto
1/2 cup walnuts, soaked in water overnight or boiled
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 pound extra firm tofu, crumbled
2 shallots, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh sage
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons Earth Balance
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 pound prepared pizza dough (I used Whole Foods' whole wheat pizza dough)

For the Balsamic-Agave Reduction
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon agave

First, prepare the butternut squash. Preheat the oven to 400 ºF. Place the butternut squash cubes in in an oven-safe baking dish. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, then toss to coat. Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes. Stir and return to oven. Check and stir at 10 minute intervals until the squash is tender and nice and browned.

Meanwhile prepare the kale and risotto. For the kale, heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Add the kale and cover. Once the kale has wilted, stir in the balsamic vinegar, and set aside.

For the risotto, wipe out the pan with a paper towel, add the Earth Balance and return to medium-high heat. Once the butter has melted, add the shallots and sage and sauté until the browned. Remove from heat. Place the pine nuts, the boiled or soaked walnuts, and 1/2 cups water in a blender. Blend until as smooth as possible (the walnuts will remain somewhat grainy, this will not be as smooth as cashew cream). Transfer to a large bowl. Add the sage, shallots, tofu, and nutritional yeast. Stir to combine.

Cut the pizza dough into 4 pieces. Using plenty of flour, roll each piece until it about a quarter inch thick. Note that because of the way the dough has been cut, you will probably not be able to form a circular piece of dough, it will want to stay in a triangle. This is actually perfectly fine, don't let it bother you.

Once the butternut squash is done roasting, you can begin to assemble the calzones, but before you do, be sure that the oven is still at 400ºF.

To assemble, distribute the butternut squash among the four calzones, placing it on only one half of your triangles. Follow with the kale, and finally with the risotto. Fold the half of the calzone without filling over the filling, stretching so that the dough entirely encapsulates the filling and is in contact along the entire perimeter. With a fork, press the edges of the dough together (see picture above) so that the dough will not come undone. With a knife pierce the tops of each calzone about three times to make room for steam to escape. Place on a baking sheet, brush with olive oil (to help them brown better), and put in oven to cook. Check the calzones after about 15 minutes.Once they have turned golden brown, they are done baking.

Finally (finally!) while the calzones are baking prepare the balsamic reduction, which will be the dipping sauce. In a measuring cup, whisk together the balsamic and the agave. Pour into a small saucepan and heat over high heat. Once the mixture boils, reduce heat to medium and simmer until reduced by about half. Remove from heat, and place in fridge to cool. As it cools the reduction will become sweeter and thicker.

Serve the calzones with the balsamic reduction in a small dipping bowl.


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