Aji Panca Butternut Squash Risotto
- 1 butternut squash (2 to 3 pounds) peeled, seeded, cut into 1/4” dice
- 1/4 cup olive oil, plus 3 tablespoons
- 2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt, divided, or to taste
- 6 to 7 cups Imagine No-Chicken Broth
- ½ cup mascarpone cheese
- 1 to 2 chopped, seeded, rehydrated Aji Panca chiles (take the seeds out while still dry and then soak in water overnight)
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 cups Arborio rice
- 1 cup white wine
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
- Set a rack in upper third part of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Place the butternut squash on baking sheet, drizzle 3 tablespoons of olive oil, sprinkle with the 1 teaspoon of the salt and toss. Place in the oven and roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until cooked and very soft. Scrape onto a bowl and set aside.
- Pour the no-chicken broth into a saucepan set over medium-low heat. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low.
- While your both comes to a simmer, combine the mascarpone cheese with the maple syrup in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Before moving on, be ready with your roasted butternut squash and chicken broth that should be at a low simmer, if need be, raise heat to medium.
- Heat ¼ cup olive oil in an extended casserole or Dutch oven set over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion and ½ teaspoon of the salt, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring often, until softened and wilted. Pour in the water and continue to cook and stir until the water has completely evaporated, the onions have become even softer, and they begin to glisten with the oil.
- Incorporate the rice and stir well to combine with the vegetables and coat in the oil. Add the remaining ½ teaspoon salt, stir, and cook 3 to 4 minutes. The rice should start to smell toasty, but it shouldn’t brown.
- Pour in the wine, stir, and cook 2 to 3 minutes more until it completely evaporates, then immediately add a large ladleful of the simmering broth. Cook at a simmer until it is absorbed and you can see the bottom of the casserole when you stir.
- Add the next ladle of broth, along with about a fourth of the roasted butternut squash, simmer and cook until the liquid is absorbed again. Repeat 3 more times, adding another ladle of broth and a fourth of the squash each time, until all the squash has been added. Add the chopped Aji Panca.
- Continue adding broth by the ladleful until the risotto is cooked al dente. Add a cup more broth and stir before you turn it off; it should be quite soupy, yet the broth should be thick.
- You may have used only 6 cups of the broth or all 7 cups, depending on the heat of your stovetop and the weather where you live. What matters is the rice is still al dente and the consistency still seems a little bit soupy.
- Turn off the heat, add the chopped parsley and the seasoned mascarpone cheese. Stir well to mix. Sprinkle on the grated parmesan and serve.
STAFF PICK – VIOLIFE by Kristy, Housewares Buyer
“Many people know this about me; I am … was a cheese junky. Cheese on pasta, cheese on sandwiches, cheese on crackers… you get the idea. Then one day my world changed, and I could no longer digest lactose or casein (milk sugar and protein). Oh, no! Now what?
I tried all kinds of alternatives, none of which satisfied me in the same way as “real” cheese, and none of them tasted too great either. I soon gave up, and while brushing a small tear from my eye, realized that my cheese-eating days were over.
Luckily, my despair was short-lived, as it appeared one day, at El Cerrito Natural Grocery – Violife! I couldn’t believe it! Finally, an alternative cheese that tasted like the real thing! No soy, no gluten, no funky aftertaste! This is a non-GMO plant-based cheese that has the same feel and consistency as “real” cheese, and the flavors are spot on. I put it to the test and ate it plain – fantastic! I melted it on a burger – beautiful!
If you’re vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, lactose intolerant, or if you just want to cut down on cholesterol, this may be a good choice for you. I could go on about how great these products are, but really, I think that it’s best that you try it yourself.”
Finger Limes also known as Caviar Limes, have juice vesicles that pop out like caviar when the finger lime is gently squeezed. I don’t know about you but many of us at The Natural Grocery love watching cooking shows and this Australian native keeps popping up as an exciting addition to many dishes. They have a burst of effervescent tangy lime flavor! It’s just like tobiko (flying fish roe) but plant based and citrus! We have added them to a few dishes pictured above. Caviar Limes are perfect anywhere you want to add acid!
These beauties are grown here in California by Edulis Gardens of San Luis Obispo County.
Try them with a Rainbow Carrot & Cabbage Coleslaw on Watermelon Radish Crostini, or Fishwise Certified Sole with Burrough Family Farms Almonds, Dried Aji Panca Chiles and Garlic, or with Petit Pot Vanilla Pudding topped with Fresh Passion Fruit.
Check out Earl’s Organics for further recipe suggestions.
How will you use them? Let us know.
This Swedish dried pea soup recipe, known as Ärtsoppa, has been served in Sweden since the middle ages! Traditionally it was served on Thursdays to get people ready for the Christian fast which would begin on Fridays. Even today it is still often served on Thursdays in schools and always in the army and the navy. Serve it with some delicious Acme Walnut Levain with Straus Lightly Salted Butter. Don’t forego the mustard, it really makes the dish!
- 2 cups dried yellow split peas
- 1 quarts Imagine No-Chicken Broth
- 1 pint water (add another pint for a looser soup)
- 1 finely chopped onions (2 cups)
- 2 large finely chopped celery ( 1 cup)
- 2 large finely chopped carrot (1 cup)
- ½ lb Llano Seco Lardon (bacon ends)*
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 fresh bay leaf
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon grainy brown mustard
*for a delicious vegetarian version omit the bacon and add 1 tablespoon of smoked paprika after skimming off the foam in Step 4.
Steps to Make It
- Rinse and pick through 1 pound of dried yellow split peas.
- Fill a large pot with 1 quart of Imagine No-Chicken Broth and 1 quart of water.
- Add the peas, onions, carrots, celery, the bacon lardons and a fresh bay leaf.
- Bring to a boil, skimming off any foam, then cover pot and reduce to a simmer over low heat for 90 minutes. (if you are making a vegetarian version this is when you add the smoked paprika)
- Thirty minutes before serving, remove the meat. Chop the meat and return to pot.
- Season the soup with 1 teaspoon dried thyme, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, salt and pepper to taste. Simmer 15 more minutes.
- Serve, passing around grainy brown mustard to stir into the soup to taste.
Summer is still in full swing despite the kids heading back to school and it being “Faugust” here in the San Francisco Bay Area. When the peppers are nice and sweet it’s great to make this Italian style relish and have it on hand. Traditionally it is made with tomatoes and basil but Laura omits these in her recipe and adds a little acid by using rice wine vinegar. You can use it on bruschetta, sandwiches, as a topping for fish or toss it with pasta. This little quick relish packs a flavorful punch!
- Prep time: 10 minutes
- Cook time: 10 minutes
- Yield: Serves 4 to 6
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 red bell peppers, seeded, sliced into 2 1/2 to 3-inch long strips
- 2 yellow bell peppers, seeded, sliced into 2 1/2 to 3-inch long strips
- 1 medium red onion, sliced into half-moons
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced thin
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon cane sugar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
- Lemon juice
1 Sauté the onions: Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the onions. Sprinkle with a little salt and sauté for 2-3 minutes, until the onions just begin to color.
2 Add the peppers: Add the peppers and stir well to combine with the onions. Sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring often. The peppers should be al dente—cooked, but with a little crunch left in them.
3 Add the garlic, capers: Add the garlic and capers, and sauté another 1 minute.
4 Add sugar, oregano, rice wine vinegar: Add the sugar,dried oregano and rice wine vinegar. Cook 1 minute.
6 Add salt, black pepper, lemon juice: Turn off the heat and adjust your salt amount. Grind some black pepper over everything. Right before serving squeeze a little lemon juice over the dish.
Wine Is Food
By Jake Wright
Eric Asimov, for those of you who may not be familiar with his name, writes about wine for the New York Times. I really like his writing and his perspectives, so I was quite pleased to read his recent article “Want to Pick Better Bottles? Repeat After Me: Wine Is Food” (NYT, 3/6/2017). In his clear and compelling way, Asimov describes to a T what we are all about here in our Annex Wine department. It practically reads like an endorsement of our approach.
For us at the Natural Grocery Co., wine is food, it is an agricultural product. We pay close attention to how the grapes were grown, and how they were treated in the cellar. I choose wines that, besides being delicious, are produced at least sustainably and at best regeneratively. My favorite stories from winemakers include how they took an abused parcel of land and brought it back, literally, to life.
There are certainly many people for whom wine is just a drink, and there are a lot of options out there. But for those who want more than just a cup of liquid unwind, there’s more to the story.
With customers, I often use the analogy of bread. Imagine on one end of the spectrum the highly processed, industrial, chemical-laden, food-like artifice such as Wonder Bread. This clearly makes some people happy. On the other end would be a naturally leavened loaf, made with grain from a known source (or even a known field), freshly ground, kneaded by hand, unhurried, and that is a clear reflection of its maker. Bread full of life, and deeply delicious to boot.
It’s the same with wine. I absolutely agree with Asimov that “a simple way to understand wine, to elevate the quality of what you consume and the pleasure you take in it, is to treat wine as if it were another staple of the table, just as you would the produce, meat and bread that you shop for and eat.”
Now, it was true for me, and is true for many (and Asimov also makes this point), that wine is one of the last things we think about as we procure quality ingredients for the table. I know in my life it took me a while to learn to prefer food I could relate to, where I knew the farmer and knew the story of how and where that food was grown, and where and how that food was processed. I wasn’t born a foodie: I’ve earned that title.
So now, I expect that for a significant percentage of the food I eat, and wine I drink, I know its backstory. Like all food we eat, wine is a product of the earth and an expression of our relationship to it, for better or worse. I try to choose better, and ultimately, that adds to my pleasure at table and sense of connectedness to the community and land around me.
Pleasure, connectedness, delicious clean wine and food. Surely these are among the best things in life, and for that, I can be grateful every day.
We’ve been selling East Brother beer since the day they opened! Check out the Richmond beer scene: http://www.eastbaytimes.com/2017/03/04/richmond-brews-up-craft-beer-business/
Assemble a cheeseboard with these seasonal delights and you are sure to wow your guests! Find these gems at our El Cerrito Store in the cheese section!
Bricat Al Tartufo, Raw Goat- Italy-13.99 ea. – delicious raw goat’s milk cheese dappled with black truffles throughout. It’s so ready to eat, boasting a crumbly texture but smooth mouth feel. Subtle nuttiness with a warm and earthy finish. My favorite pairing is a Langhe Arneis from the Piedmont Region of Italy.
Capra Cremosa, Pasteurized Goat- Italy- 9.99 ea. – Customer favorite! Tangy goat cheese topped with fresh earthy black truffles. This will be delicious atop the holiday prime rib. Pair with a light white like the Anselmo Mendes Passaros from Vinho Verde in Portugal (available at Annex Wine & Beer).
Moser cru Blanc, Raw Cow-Switzerland-10.99 ea. – Having notes of chanterelle and fresh cream, the slight tang will have your guest wondering if the New Year came early, pop some bubbly and get the party started. This is a great addition to your any party! Pair with the Hubert Meyer Crémant d’Alsace (available at Annex Wine & Beer).
Robiola tre latti, Pasteurized Cow, Goat, Sheep – Italy- 10.99 ea. -Piemonte, Italy. WOW. This cheese is literally the trifecta of deliciousness. Made using cow, goat and sheep milk; every bite will showcase the best attributes of each milk. The richness of sheep, buttery notes from the cow and that wonderful lactic tang from the goats milk. Its pastoral taste explosion will make you wish you bought two, one for you and one to share! Pair with Agnès and René Mosse Magic of Juju (Available at Annex Wine & Beer).
Robiola Nostrana, Pasteurized Cow- Italy- 8.99 ea.– hailing from the Lombardy region in Italy, it’s easy to say that this cheese is a typical representation of the quality of milk the region produces. On the front there are notes of sweet milk followed by the live notes of yeast and brioche. Pairs perfectly with fruity whites and lagers.
Winnimere, Raw Cow- Vermont- 16.99 ea. – T ’is the season of Winnimere, glorious Winnimere. It’s a take on the classic Vacherin Mont d’Or. What makes this cheese not only special to me and other mongers is that, like the Swiss, they only make this during the winter months because Jasper Hills Ayrshire cows are giving rich, non GMO hay-fed raw milk. It’s wrapped in White Spruce bark (hand harvested on the farms woodlands) then aged for approximately 60 days. This cheese has great notes of bacon, sweet cream and spruce. I always tell customers to peel away the top rind and feel free to dip or spoon. What we have in stock is from the first batch, which means if you don’t get one now you’ll have to wait until after New Year’s because they’ve sold out! Pair Winnimere with the Dust Bowl Brewing Black Blizzard Beer (available at Annex Wine & Beer).
Looking to make your holiday spread memorable? When setting your holiday table don’t forget the cheese!
We may not have a artisanal cheese case, but that doesn’t mean your monger has forgotten about you, he’s selected something for everyone’s taste and budget.
Petit Vaccarinus, Switzerland, thermised, cow – 24.99 each.
This is the centerpiece for your cheese board, on so many levels, so don’t let the price tag scare you. This sought after cheese is really a not miss. Once made raw, it’s currently made using thermised milk and under strict control of the AOC (Appélation d’origine controlee) It’s versatile, decadent, woody with barnyardy tannin. This will pair well with just about any beefy brew (stouts, porters and dessert wines) you love on hand. Keep in mind It’s runny, which is why the fir band is kept around it throughout serving. It’s capable of serving up to 7-10 people who like to share, but why would we? This is a seasonal and limited release item so get them while their still in stock!
Harbison, Jasper Hill Creamery, Vermont, pasteurized, cow – 28.99/lb.
In my opinion a cheese board isn’t complete without a cheese from Jasper Hill Farm present. Harbison’ s rustic, vegetal, fruity and earthy notes really speak to the quality of milk used in its production and affinage. Pair this beautiful work of art with oaked whites and Belgian ales. It’s wonderful smeared on your turkey or a dollop on your mashed potatoes. These are ready to eat, so you will be cutting the tops off and dipping that crusty bread. Harbison also makes a wonderful mac & cheese for the fancy pants in us all!
Green Hill Camembert, Georgia, pasteurized, cow – 18.99/lb.
As a staunch camembert lover, I was pleasantly surprised in the delicate and subtle interpretation of a “camembert” Sweet Grass Dairy has attempted. Delicate in the fact that the pate is very creamy, almost double cream like, spreading easily. Subtle in that the vegetal notes are on the back end and there is definitely a sweet aftertaste that lets you know this was made from grass fed jersey milk. This cheese is a constant companion to sparklers, acidic whites and floral pinks. Try this with a scratch cranberry sauce and some turkey, nom nom nom!
Looking for that cheese to take to a party? Would really like to set it and forget it as you make your way to the food? These host gift worthy items will sure get you invited to the next feast!
St. Albans, Vermont, pasteurized, cow – $7.99 ea. Verified Non GMO!!
Allison has done it again, her interpretation of the classic French St. Marcellin. St. Albans is lactic, bready and gooey. It even comes in a lovely crock, so no cheese is left behind on the board! Goes great with a light bodied white, Belgian / Flemish whites.
St. Andre, France, pasteurized, cow – $7.99
Delightful triple cream, it’s perfect with fruit, pie or just on a nice crusty bread.
Le Pommier Camembert, France, pasteurized, cow- $8.99
Classic camembert, it’s not raw but boy does it eat as if it was! The traditional vegetal, woodsy, sweet cream, toast are all present in this cheese. This is ready to eat the moment you select it from the shelf. Do not miss out on this cheese. It’s my all-time favorite camembert. The left overs are great on the after turkey day quiche or sandwich. Gobble, gobble, gobble!