I first heard of the “Long of Naples” heirloom squash from Richard Andres of Tantre Farm. It was mid-October. He said they had a lot of these large Italian heirloom hard squash ripening in the field. Richard recommended I try roasting some to freeze for Locavorious. I thought he was calling the squash the “Log of Naples” and although Log of Naples didn’t sound that appetizing….I was curious. Richard grows good food and if he was recommending it, my guess is it wouldn’t taste like a log. Fortunately, that day Tantre had brought large chunks of the Long of Naples to market, and our Tantre CSA share box included one of these large chunks.
Of course, like all cyber-cooks, before dinner time I jumped online and Googled “Long of Naples” squash recipes…..and found one recipe. Only one. It was posted by a personal chef out of Chicago and was for Long of Naples squash bisque with sage cream, fried prosciutto and truffles. Hmmm, sounds nice, but too many fancy ingredients for a weeknight. I figured, let’s just see what this thing tastes like. So, with that first large chunk of Long of Naples squash, I roasted it in the oven for 45 minutes or so, straight up, nothing added. It’s juicier than butternut squash or pumpkin, and the Long of Naples has a more delicate flavor, almost reminiscent of melon. The color is such a vibrant orange that it charms me into thinking the taste is closer to that of carrots than other hard winter squashes. After roasting, the Long of Naples purees beautifully, and you can use that puree to make wonderful soups and bisques. I also discovered I loved the flavor combined with rice.
If you are lucky enough to have some roasted Long of Naples squash puree in your freezer, here are two recipes: baked brown rice with Long of Naples and a Long of Naples Risotto. As of this week, Morgan & York still had some Locavorious Long of Naples puree for sale in their freezer case too. (And if you’d like assistance, advice, or ingredients for risotto, Tommy York is your man.)
Baked brown rice with Long of Naples Squash
2 T olive oil
2 onions, chopped
Optional variations: 1 cup chopped asparagus, mushrooms, peppers or other vegetables
1 cup vegetable broth
1 ¼ cup water
2 cups frozen squash puree
1 teas salt
1 ½ cups brown rice
It’s easiest to prepare the rice in a dutch oven or aluminum pot that can go from stove top into the oven. Preheat oven to 375 F. Heat olive oil over medium heat; add onions and cook until soft. Thaw the squash in a microwave or hot water enough to loosen from container. Add squash, broth, water and salt to the pot and bring to a boil. Optional: add vegetables and let cook 1 minute. (The fall-meets-spring addition of asparagus works really well.) Add rice and stir. Remove from stovetop. (If not using oven-safe pot, transfer rice to greased casserole dish.) Cover and bake in oven for 65-70 minutes or until rice is tender.
Alternative preparation to avoid long baking time: Bring the rice and 2 cups of water to a low boil; simmer for about 25 minutes. Meanwhile, in a second pot sauté the onions in olive oil; when soft add the broth, squash puree and extra water to this pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium. Allow the soup to simmer and thicken for about 20 minutes. During the last minute, add other vegetables if desired. Combine the parboiled rice and squash broth into a greased casserole dish. Bake at 375 F for about 20-30 more minutes or until rice is tender.
- Long of Naples Squash Risotto
2 cups frozen squash puree, thawed enough to get out of container
~ 3 cups broth and/or water
¾ cup diced shallots
1 cup chopped mushrooms, fresh or frozen
1 T butter + 1-2 T olive oil
1 ½ cup Arborio rice
½ cup white wine
~ ½ cup frozen peas or chopped frozen green beans or chopped frozen sugar snap peas, slightly thawed
~ ¼ cup grated hard cheese, like really good Parmesan
In a medium saucepan, combine the squash and broth, bring to a boil, stir to combine thoroughly, and then turn heat way down low so that broth stays warm and ready. In a large saucepan, melt the butter and heat the olive oil, then sauté the shallots and mushrooms for a few minutes. Add the rice and stir for about 1 minute. Stir in wine and ~ 1/2 cup broth mixture; cook 3 minutes or until the liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Continue to add broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of liquid is absorbed before adding the next. When your arm gets tired, enlist some help. Add the frozen peas or beans to the broth. When it’s finally time to add the last bit of broth, also add the peas or beans. Stir until the peas are heated through and the risotto has achieved a creamy consistency. Top each portion generously with grated cheese.
Squash risotto with a side of kale