Sunday, October 13, 2013

Butternut Squash Risotto

What's more comforting than creamy risotto with roasted, sweet butternut squash? Nothing.

I'm so glad I received a request for a recipe for butternut squash risotto, because it's really exactly what I want to eat all season long, and now I have a go-to recipe for it!

I made this risotto with short-grain brown rice for its whole grain goodness, but also because it's nuttier, chewier, and heartier than white rice, which I think makes for an even more satisfying dish.

Butternut Squash Risotto


Ingredients:
  • 1/2 a medium butternut squash (I used just the neck), cut in 1/2-3/4 inch cubes
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 1/2 cups short grain brown rice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • ground nutmeg
  • olive oil cooking spray
Directions:
  1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil, then spray with cooking spray.
  2. Spread the butternut squash cubes on the baking sheet, spray evenly with cooking spray, then sprinkle with paprika, cumin, salt and pepper to taste. Bake for 30 minutes, until browned on the edges and soft.
  3. Meanwhile, place rice in a medium pot and fill the pot half-way with water (no need to measure). Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Drain (but do not rinse) the rice.
  4. In a large, shallow pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent. Add the rice and stir until any excess liquid from the rice has cooked off.
  5. Add the vegetable stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until the liquid is absorbed after each addition. Once you have added all 3 cups of stock, you should be left with a creamy, loose rice that is fully cooked.
  6. Stir in the fresh sage, salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste, and the roasted butternut squash.
Notes:
  • Short-grain brown rice can be found in most supermarkets, and can easily be bought fairly inexpensively in the bulk section at stores like Whole Foods. If you don't want to use brown rice, you can substitute regular Arborio rice, and just skip the step where you parboil the rice.
  • Speaking of parboiling the rice, I did that to cut the cooking time. Normally, brown rice takes about twice as long as white rice to cook, so making risotto would be a pain in the neck. Parboiling the rice didn't affect the creamy texture but cut out a huge chunk of time!
  • When you drain the rice after parboiling, do not rinse it! This will remove the starch from the outside of the grains, and that's what we need to make creamy risotto.
  • If you bought a whole butternut squash, like me, here's my suggestion for using it in this recipe: Cut the squash across where the neck ends and the bulb starts. The neck is solid and can be cubed easily after being peeled. However, the bulb holds all the seeds and is a pain to cube. So I cut the bulb in half vertically, scooped out the seeds with a spoon, and roasted the halves cut-side up alongside the cubes to make "bowls". The bowls need to bake for an hour, so just put them back in the oven for another 30 minutes after removing the cubes.
  • Don't leave out the nutmeg. Just don't.
  • Traditionally, risotto is finished by stirring a pat of cold butter in at the end to make it richer and improve the texture. I didn't do it, but if you're making this for a special occasion--go ahead and stir it in. You probably won't regret it.
Enjoy the holiday weekend and keep the requests coming!

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