Butternut Risotto

This recipe has been in my “to try” list for a very very long time. I love butternut squash. In fact, lately I have been buying them whole and instead of peeling and chopping them up I just bake the entire squash whole at 400 degrees for about an hour and 15 minutes. When the squash is soft, all I have to do to peel off the skin and scoop out the seeds. So easy, and then I have squash to last me for the rest of the week. I use it in salads, quesadillas, soups, etc.

The method of cooking squash that I described above yields steamed squash with a more canned pumpkin like texture. However, this recipe requires that you roast the squash in the oven to achieve a much deeper flavor and some nice carmelization. Other ingredients are roasted with the squash including apples, onions,  fresh sage, etc. It tasted a little like Thanksgiving stuffing with squash instead of bread.

While all the ingredients roasted, you cook your risotto. Risotto has a notorious reputation as being hard to replicate at home. My best advice would be to pay attention! Risotto requires stirring and an eye for when to add more stock to get the right consistency. Otherwise, it is surprising simple to make and takes about the same amount of time to cook as a pot of brown rice.

Once the veggies are roasted you combine them with the warm silky risotto and top the whole mixture with slivered almonds, fresh sage and some warm cream.  It was perfection! I often critique my dishes as I eat them thinking that I should have added more of this or less of that but this dish needed no changes. Enjoy with a glass of white wine and a arugula-based side salad for a hearty and filling winter meal.

Cozy Harvest Risotto (serves 3-4 people) (slightly adapted from Healthy Happy Life)

1 cup arborio rice
3 cups of vegetable broth

Veggie mix:
1 small apple, diced
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cups butternut squash, diced
1/2 cup carrot, diced (or use more squash)
1/2 cup celery, chopped
about 1 Tbsp of fresh mixed herbs: fresh thyme + chopped rosemary + chopped sage
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil or safflower oil
salt + pepper to taste

also:
1/3 cup sliced almonds
fresh sage
non-dairy (plain) creamer or milk (warmed – optional) (I used warm almond milk)

Directions:

1. In a large saute or sauce pan, add the risotto rice and 1 cup of the broth. Turn heat to medium high and bring to a boil. When boiling, begin to stir the rice with a large spoon or spatula. Keep stirring casually until the liquid has absorbed. Add in the remaining amount of broth in splashes as you keep stirring – until all the rice has absorbed the liquid. Now do a taste test of the rice. It should be velvety and tender when ready, so if the inside still tastes al dente, add in a few more splashes of broth. Keep adding until the rice is as tender as you’d like it. I like my rice very soft, so I usually add in about 3 1/2 cups of broth.

2. While your rice is cooking, you can do your harvest mix. You can either roast all these ingredients in the over (400 degrees for about 20 minutes) – or you can saute them in 1 Tbsp of olive oil. Whichever method you use, just cook until tender and ready to eat.

3. When both your rice and harvest mix components are cooked, you will not combine them to serve. Per one serving: add 1 cup of the risotto to a saute pan, over medium heat. Add in the almonds and fold well. Add in one fresh sage leaf torn into pieces. Fold well. Lastly, gently fold in 1/2 cup of the harvest mix. Allow to warm a bit then transfer to serving plate. Top with another spoonful of harvest mix and some fresh sage and almonds to garnish! Pepper on top is nice too. Add a splash of warmed non-dairy milk or creamer over top if desired.

This dish is best served on a warmed shallow bowl.

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