On nights when Logan isn’t home and there is nothing in the house to eat, I sometimes make risotto. Besides some form of pasta, risotto is like my box of mac and cheese. Always there and always a good choice. P.S. I use to live off of mac and cheese AND rice a roni. My diet was horribly diverse, and obviously super healthy too.
Risotto is great because it requires so few ingredients yet has this fancy air about it. I always feared risotto because it sounded too fancy pants. The first time I made risotto though it was anything but fancy. I felt like I should have been wearing a sweatband around my head for the amount of stirring that was going down. I would have made Arnold Schwarzenegger himself proud. I stirred that rice like I was entering into a Mrs. Universe competition. I was out for the win.
A number of risottos later I’ve learned that you can leave Arnold out of the kitchen and instead just taking it slow and steady gets you exactly where you want to be with risotto.
Risotto can be customized easily by switching up the additions you throw in or your garnishes. Or you can go stripped down and make classic (white) risotto which can be done with this recipe by simply omitting the roasted butternut squash. Strip away the squash and this is the perfect starting point for any risotto. You can add in other roasted veggies, or sauteed mushrooms for example. Om nom nom.
Now as a heads up risotto is a slow and steady dish as I mentioned, so running off to have escapades while cooking is not a good idea. It needs lots of love to come out creamy, filling and ultra comfort food feeling. But this fancy pants dish is sooooo worth the wait and attention.
Lets talk butternut squash for a minute, or three. Getting into a butternut squash can be quite the adventure if you are unsure how to go about it. The “normal” way to tackle a butternut squash is to put it in half where the chunky (body) part meets the long (neck) part. The “Meg” way is to cut it in half lengthwise. So why do I do it differently? I find that you don’t always cut it in the right place when cutting horizontally. Sometimes the cavity of the squash (where the seeds and squash goop are) isn’t exposed and you have to do some more cutting to be able to scoop out your goop. So I just cut it in half lengthwise to avoid the whole “am I cutting it in the right spot” dilemma.
Once cut you can scoop your goop and toss, or roast the seeds for a snack later. Yaaa?? You can now chop off the top and bottom of the squash to get rid of the stem and what Logan calls “the butt” of the squash. Lovely I know. It’s best to do with with the squash facing down and flat against the cutting board. Next you want to cut your squash one more time. This time horizontally where the body meets the neck, remember where the chunky part meets the long part (such a description I know). From here you can peel your squash making sure to remove any green lines (those are tough so they have to go) and chop ‘er up however you like.
So that’s how to tackle a butternut squash, put in the most in-eloquent way. The good thing is if you understood any of that… prepping a butternut squash is going to be much simpler moving forward. I always was a hot mess with squash and sooo frustrated. Thankfully I’ve moved on from those days.
While cooking my risotto I let my butternut squash roast in the oven at the same time. It did finish before the risotto was ready and that’s a-okay! You can even let it cool completely, or dare I say cook the squash in advance and store it in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use. Just make sure to heat it through when you add it into the risotto. If it’s straight out of the fridge you may need to cook the risotto with the squash just a tad longer.
Other quick note: light stirring once the squash goes in. You don’t want to break/beat it up just incorporate it.
- For the squash:
- 3 cups or 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded,
- and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon Hungarian paprika
- salt & pepper
- For the risotto:
- 5 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 large shallots, finely diced
- 2 garlic cloves, pressed
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- 1/2 dry white wine
- 1/3 cup fat free half and half
- 1/3-1/2 cup Gruyere, shredded
- For the squash:
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- In a large bowl toss all ingredients until well combined.
- On a parchment lined baking sheet lay squash in a single layer. Place in oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until squash is tender.
- For the risotto:
- In a large saucepan heat chicken broth over low heat. Continue to keep broth warm.
- In a large skillet over medium high heat melt butter. Add shallots and stir. Cook for 3-4 minutes until shallots begin to soften. Add pressed garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add rice to skillet. Stir for an additional minute, or until rice is glistening/coated in butter. Add wine and stir until absorbed.
- Reduce heat to low and add one cup of chicken broth to rice mixture. Gently stir to combine rice and chicken broth. When broth has been absorbed add another cup of broth and continue process of stirring and letting rice absorb the broth. Continue until 4 cups of broth have been added and absorbed. Taste rice to determine consistency, it should be tender but have a slight bite left to it. Continue to add broth until you have the right consistency.
- Add half and half and Gruyere gently stirring to combine. Add roasted butternut squash, again gently stirring to combine. Add salt and pepper as needed.
- Remove from heat and serve. Garnish with sage and/or additional Gruyere.