The highlight of every Saturday morning at Lafayette’s Hub City Farmer’s Market in the Oil Center is the Gotreaux Family Farm stall. Dawn and Brian along with all the Gotreaux children are always there. From their farm in Scott, Louisiana, they grow the freshest vegetables with unique varieties as well as farm-fresh eggs, free range chickens and farm-raised tilapia.
The Gotreaux family had some beautiful autumn squash at the Farmer’s Market. What I thought, at first glance, were acorn squash turned out to be sweet dumpling (carnival) squash. The meat of these gourds is extremely sweet and make a great vessel for stuffing.
A squash risotto stuffing with fresh herbs and artisanal goat cheese paired with a glass of Chardonnay is the perfect dinner on a crisp fall evening. Or as Christmas nears, it is the perfect dish for a holiday dinner party. And it gives me yet another reason to experiment with a unique new rice – Supreme brand Louisiana jasmine.
Actually, I came to know the Gotreaux family before I ever met them. That’s the magic of blogging. In Dawn’s first blog entry, when I read her words, I knew this family was something special. Dawn Gotreaux writes:
“Wow, I never dreamed of having a blog but here it is the first entry…history is made! Some of us are just coming in from working in the garden. We did get some things accomplished. Half of the leeks were able to get planted. Cauliflower, celery and some more lettuce were planted too. My fingernails are packed with dirt… what a grand feeling. I could have used a hand shovel, but it’s been too long since I got my hands into the soil.”
Did you hear those words? Real words. Not words written with a sense of someone reading them critically or being judged for literary value — real words and real dirt. And she continues:
“There’s just something great about sinking your hand into cool soil and planting. Slowly the greenhouse in the garden is taking shape. Brian was able to get the top support bars on today. Hopefully I can attach a picture here and there real soon. How’s that for the first post? Maybe I have a lot to learn or maybe it’s the distractions as the rest of the family is coming into the house wondering what’s for supper.”
Supper? Who says “supper” anymore? Real people with real values and a spiritual connection to southern ideals. People like Dawn Gotreaux. She continues:
“Supper, it’s always a busy kitchen. Simon and JulieBeth are washing and spinning the lettuce, Ariana and Nathanael are peeling potatoes, Juliana has made the dressing for the salad and my bread has risen and is waiting for the next step. Talk with ya’ll soon….Dawn.”
I’m struck with the purity of purpose and the honesty of a life that is focused on significant things — tasks and chores and duties and necessities. These are the vital contributions of a working family fixed on the simple and virtuous values of life. I am most envious.
It is fulfilling every time I buy from the Gotreaux family. Not only am I getting fresh, farm-grown produce, but I am helping support a local family that is contributing to the beauty of living in Acadiana. Oh, and if you want to know the reasons to visit their farm, just call and schedule a tour, and you’ll be introduced to all 10 of them.
Stuffed Sweet Dumpling Squash with Louisiana Jasmine Risotto
Prep time: 1 hour
Cooking time: 1 hour
Tip: This is an easy recipe and a great way to exploit the taste and presentation potential of this squash. If you cannot find sweet dumpling / carnival squash, you can substitute acorn squash. I urge you to seek out the Supreme brand Louisiana jasmine rice developed by the LSU AgCenter and Rice Research Station in Crowley, LA. For taste and aroma it can’t be beat. Plus, it has an Arborio-like creamy consistency that works perfect in this risotto. You can find it at Rouse’s and other local grocers. Don’t rinse the rice before cooking since it is the creaminess of the release of starch into the wine and stock that achieves the thick, soupy texture we seek. A good artisan goat cheese will add even more flavor and creaminess.
4 sweet dumpling squash
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup onion, diced
1/2 cup green onion, diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon allspice
1 tablespoon ground white pepper
2 cups Supreme brand Louisiana white jasmine rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 cup goat cheese
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup green onion tops for garnish
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Cut the tops off the squash and scrape out the membrane and all seeds. Reserve the tops of the squash for garnish. Place the squash on a parchment paper-lined sheet pan and bake for 30 minutes or until the squash just begins to soften. Remove from the oven and let cool.
Take a spoon and remove most of the meat from the squash being sure to keep the hull of the outer squash intact. Chop the squash meat until almost a puree. Reserve the squash meat and cover the shells of the squash. Move to the side.
In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat until hot. Add the onions and half the green onions and sauté until they turn translucent. Add the garlic and all of the reserved squash puree along with the rosemary, thyme, allspice and white pepper.
Add the unwashed rice and sauté until you begin to smell a nutty aroma, or about 5 minutes. Add the white wine and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and let some of the alcohol burn off before adding the first ladle of chicken stock. As the rice absorbs the stock continue adding more until the rice is tender, about 30 minutes. Turn the heat off the rice and add the parsley along with the goat cheese. Season with salt to taste. Stir, cover and remove from the stove top.
Fill each squash vessel with the risotto. Melt the butter in a small skillet and add the bread crumbs, stirring until the butter is absorbed. Sprinkle the stuffed squash with the breadcrumb mixture and place on a foil-lined sheet pan. Just before serving, return the squash to the oven until heated through and the breadcrumbs brown on top.
Sprinkle with green onion tops and serve with the tops of the squash on the side. Pair with a cool, crisp glass of Chardonnay.
And don’t forget to visit the Gotreaux family farm.
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