Thursday, November 4, 2010

Butternut Squash Risotto

You think I'm sick of butternut squash yet? Not even close! Last night I made Butternut Squash Risotto.

It started out that I knew I wanted to make risotto with butternut squash, but I wasn't sure what else to add. I'd only made risotto once before, so this is relatively new territory for me. I looked at a couple recipes online, but ended up going with my own mix of ingredients, all of which I already had at home. I sort of followed the cooking instructions on my box of Arborio rice, except downsized it to about 2/3 of the standard serving suggestion, since I would be the only one eating it. It still made 4 servings.

My Ingredients List:
  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 2 cups fat-free, low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 2 pieces bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Small onion, chopped
  • 2-4 cups spinach
  • 3 fresh sage leaves, chopped
  • Spices (I used chili powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and rosemary)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut your butternut squash in half. Mine was just a baby from the local farm stand:

Scoop seeds out of both halves. Put one half face down in an oven dish and put about 1/2 inch of water in dish.

Peel and chop the other half into small pieces. Toss with about 1/2 tablespoon olive oil, chili powder, cinnamon, salt and pepper.

Put both dishes in the oven at 350 degrees and bake for about 30 minutes.

In the meantime I got started with the risotto. Measure your chicken broth into a small pot and heat on the stove until simmering, then reduce heat to low. In a large pan, melt about 1 tablespoon butter. Add minced garlic and chopped onion and cook until translucent.

Add the Arborio rice to onions and garlic and cook for about 2 minutes so rice absorbs the butter.

Add wine and let simmer for 1-2 minutes until absorbed. Add about 1/2 cup (I used a ladle) hot broth to risotto, stirring constantly until absorbed. Repeat this process until all but 1/2 cup of broth has been added. This is supposed to take about 18 minutes but took me a little longer.

Meanwhile, take the squash out of the oven. Set roasted squash aside. Scoop out the squash from the half that was cooked face down and put in food processor. At this point I panicked that I didn't have enough (since my squash was so small), so I added 1/3 can organic canned pumpkin. I also added about 1/3 container of light organic tofu.

Puree until smooth.

When all except 1/2 cup of hot chicken broth has been added to the risotto, add the squash/pumpkin/tofu puree, the final 1/2 cup broth, and spices (chili powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper). Stir well to combine. 

When that liquid has been absorbed and the risotto is thick and creamy, add the roasted squash pieces, spinach, bacon, and grated Parmesan cheese.

Spinach, Parmesan, and Chopped Bacon
Roasted Squash

Stir to combine. 

Serve, adding some grated Parmesan and spices on top for garnish. I had my risotto with an artichoke that I steamed while making dinner.

Dinner is served!

This was very good! The taste of the squash was not very strong in the risotto, so I'm glad that I roasted half of it to add pieces in (and roasting it in chili powder gave these pieces a great kick). The Parmesan and spinach went great with the other flavors, and the bacon was a fun addition that added a little salt and meatiness. The reason I added the tofu to my squash/pumpkin puree was for extra protein, but I think the consistency of it was a little bit weird, and probably wouldn't add it again (or instead would try the soft tofu instead of firm).

I loved this, but the true taste test came when Pat got up from the dinner table to get something from the kitchen, and while in there he tasted a bite of risotto from the pan. Even this is a huge step, since Pat does not like risotto and doesn't like butternut squash (if you're wondering how a squash fanatic and a squash hater make a relationship work, I'd say its pure luck!). Usually I will force Pat to try something he doesn't like, thinking that once he tries it he'll like it. Last night I didn't even offer him any because I know that he doesn't like the dish or the main ingredient. Well, he tried it on his own and then made himself a plate of it!! I couldn't believe it. He said he was surprised by it and really liked it (and he saw me put the tofu in, another food he won't touch). So I'd say this was a success! He had grilled pork chops for dinner, which went amazingly well with this risotto.

The beautiful thing about risotto is that you can really use any combination of ingredients you like, and its different every time.

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