Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Butternut Squash Risotto

This recipe makes me happy. I first crossed paths with it over a decade ago when I went over to the apartment of my friend Riza, and her husband Adam. Riza's an insanely talented gal, and quite the chef. I remember she served a simple lemon vinaigrette over arugula to complement the meal. And, as far as I'm concerned, any recipe that has me open a bottle of wine for the occasion is one worth repeating. This recipe could easily be made to suit Vegans with the omission of the cheese (substitute 1/4 tsp. of red pepper flakes for the kick). 

Butternut Squash Risotto
Adapted from Riza Hunger's recipe

Prep time: For squash, 45 minutes
For rice: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Oven Temperature: 400 degrees

1 1/2 lbs. sliced butternut squash (I used whole, but if you can find it at the store ready to go, run with it)
2 Tbsp. olive oil or butter, divided
1/4 cup chopped shallots or red onions, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
4 oz. fresh mushroom blend (baby bella, shiitake and oyster), sliced
1 tsp. dried basil (or 2 tsp. fresh, chopped)
1/2 t. dried summer savory* or thyme
1 cup Arborio rice
1/4 cup white wine
3 cups hot chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup grated pepper jack cheese
1/4 cup chopped chives 
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

In a preheated 400 degree oven, bake butternut squash for 35-40 minutes until tender, but not mushy. Cut squash away from skin and into 1/2 inch dice. Reserve 1 1/4 cups for the risotto and keep warm. 

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil. Add mushrooms and sauté for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally until slightly browned. Remove from pan and reserve. 

In the same pan, heat remaining 1 Tbsp. of olive oil. Add shallots (or onions), garlic, herbs and rice, and sauté for 3-5 minutes, until rice is translucent. Add the wine, and continue to simmer until liquid is absorbed, stirring constantly. Continue adding stock in small amounts (about 1/4 cup at a time works well), stirring until liquid is absorbed into the rice each time before adding more stock. 

In the last five minutes, add the cheese, along with reserved mushrooms and squash and stir thoroughly. When rice is al dente, remove from heat. Top plates with a sprinkle of chives. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

*Summer Savory is not easy to find, nor is it vital to the recipe. If you have it (or grow it) great! If not, substitute thyme. I happened to buy some by chance on a trip to France (where it's called Sarriette). I didn't realize what it was until I got home and Googled it. 

Finished product

Cut butternut in half and scoop out the seeds before roasting

Any recipe that calls for wine? All in! 

Mushrooms sauteing

Risotto cooking before adding liquids

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