Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Butternut Squash Risotto

Fall is officially here and there is no denying it. With that said, I might as well embrace the cooler temperatures, heartier meals and pumpkin everything. I received beautiful butternut squash from the crop share and decided to make a creamy and fluffy risotto. This dish is very hearty, so you can serve it alone with a side salad or alongside a simple grilled chicken. The mix of the butternut squash and vanilla adds warm and comforting flavor to this dish.

Recipe yields 6-8 servings (as a side dish)

4 cups vegetable broth
1 vanilla bean
3 cups butternut squash (about 1 medium butternut squash)
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 tsp salt
1 tsp parsley

In a medium stock pot, add the vegetable broth. Cut open the vanilla bean and scrape the insides into the pot. Toss in the outside bean and bring the broth to a simmer.

Chop the butternut squash into 1" cubes. Add the squash to the pot and cook in the broth for 8-10 minutes, until the squash is tender. I like to keep the squash on the 'harder' side so it has a bite to it when added to the risotto. But if you prefer, you can cook it longer and it will be softer in the final dish. Once the squash has reached your preferred texture, remove from the pot with a slotted spoon and reserve on the side. Keep the heat on low, so the broth mixture stays warm.

In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of butter and add the chopped onion. Cook on medium low heat so the onion becomes tender without browning. Add the rice and coat in the butter. Add the white wine and continuously stir the rice until the wine is absorbed. About 1/2 cup at a time, transfer the broth into the skillet and stir into the rice. Continue this process, waiting to add more broth until the current portion has been soaked up by the rice. Keep on stirring until all the broth has been removed from the pot and has been soaked into the rice. The rice should now be plump and creamy. (*Note - remove the outer vanilla bean from the broth, DO NOT mix it into the rice!)

Cut the heat on the skillet and add the remaining butter, cheese and salt. Stir to incorporate throughout the rice. Add the reserved, cooked butternut squash and fold into the mixture. Remove to a serving dish and top with chopped parsley. Serve on its own or alongside a simple main dish. Enjoy!