A Wild Hair

Every day is a tiny bit shorter than the one before, now.  As I drive to work, the sun is just making an appearance, peeking through gauzy curtains of fog at a sleepy world.  Crows march around the sodden lawn, terrorizing the early worm.  And last week I saw a perfect V of geese, a stark black check mark spread out across the sky, high up and headed south.

And yet, today it was warm enough to strip off layers as I ran; my feet splashed in mud puddles from a morning rainstorm while the afternoon sun warmed my shoulders.  The breeze made me shiver, but only when the sun ducked behind a fast moving cloud.

I get a bit of a wild hair every fall.  I don’t know whether to blame it on the migratory instinct, the fresh cool air, or maybe some lingering vestige of back to school joie de vivre, but fall is the season for change.  I start dreaming up new projects/vacation plans/hobbies, considering drastic haircuts and planning dinner parties.

And why not welcome fall dinner guests in out of the cold with something both delicate and hearty?  During this transitional time of year, when the summer produce is still bountiful, but the urge to eat carbs and hibernate is coming on strong, you can’t go wrong with this risotto. It’s a real stick-to-your-ribs dish that brings together the best of late summer produce—tomatoes, zucchini, rosemary—with the chewy, starchy goodness of whole grains.  A snap to cook, it fills the house with its savory aroma.  And every bite is infused with a rich, brothy, rosemary-infused intensity.

If you don’t want to share, I won’t blame you.  This risotto keeps for several days in the fridge, or freezes well.

Mixed Grain Risotto with Squash, Mushrooms, and Rosemary

(adapted from Hudson Valley Mediterranean: The Gigi Good Food Cookbook)

  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1 small yellow squash , quartered lengthwise and diced
  • 1 small zucchini , quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • ¾ cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup each brown rice and pearl barley and wild rice
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine (optional)
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan , plus more for garnish
  • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves (stripped from stem)
  • 1 large tomato , seeded and diced
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Heat oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add 3/4 of squash and zucchini, and the mushrooms, and cook, stirring occasionally, until just softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add brown rice, barley, and wild rice; toast, stirring often, for 2 minutes. Add wine (if using) and cook 1 minute more. Add broth and rosemary; bring to a boil. Partially cover pot, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until rice and barley are tender and risotto is thick and slightly soupy, about 45 minutes.

Stir in rest of squash and zucchini; cook, uncovered, until tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in cheese and tomatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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8 thoughts on “A Wild Hair

  1. Cristina

    This risotto just warms my heart! I am so into risotto right now and can’t get enough of it. I crave it! Good ingredients and the wine in the risotto is not optional :)

    1. The Rowdy Chowgirl Post author

      Cristina-I’m with you on the wine–the risotto really is less savory without it, but still quite edible…

  2. Stella

    I want a wild hair (smile)! I haven’t felt this sensation yet, Rowdy, but I hope to soon. Maybe it’s just due to it still being so hot and summery seeming down here.
    Your risotto sounds so hearty though-I would love a bowl on a cool night;)

  3. cozydelicious

    I love the grains combo! I often make a barley and sausage risotto and another with brown rice and wild mushrooms, but it never occured to me to mix them together! Duh! This looks fantastic and warming and lovely.

  4. Natalie

    We only said the other day that dusk comes around a little quicker these days. I have just been looking through my cooking books trying to find something that would suit a chilly evening but not so wintery that you would think that there was snow on the ground. I have settled on a chicken curry with a little mango – just to hold on to the last bit of summer!

    1. The Rowdy Chowgirl Post author

      I’ve had a mango sitting on my kitchen counter ripening–it definitely represents a last bit of summer. Chicken curry with mango sounds perfect about now.

  5. Monet

    This is chock-full of so many lovely fall ingredients. I will be making this for a fall party very soon! I get so excited when the seasons begin to change…we both seem to fall spell to a wild hair!


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