Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Winter squash risotto

I love winter squash. Along with honeycrisp apples, it helps make up for the lack of nectarines and fresh corn when the weather starts to change. I eat a lot of butternut and acorn squash during the winter months, and I was excited last week when I went into Whole Foods and saw that the delicata squash had arrived (I maybe need to get out more). It's a yellow-and-green-speckled, sort of cucumber-shaped winter squash that I had no idea existed until a couple of years ago. It's sweet like other winter squashes, roasts nicely, and has skin thin enough that you can actually eat it (although I usually peel it anyhow, because I like the smoother texture). It seems to have a very short season, so Brian and I cook with it a couple of times a week while it's around.

I made my favorite risotto with it on Sunday night, and after seeing a couple of squash recipe posts, I thought I'd post my own. Well, it's not really my own: this comes pretty much straight from Jack Bishop's A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen. We love Jack Bishop in our house. Brian even wrote him a fan email one time (and was very excited when he got a response).

Winter Squash Risotto

2 T olive oil
6 T butter
4 cups broth
1 onion, diced small
1.5 cups arborio rice
1 cup white wine
2.5 pounds winter squash*
1 T sage, minced**
freshly grated nutmeg***
1/2 cup grated parmesan, plus extra for the table

*I like delicata, butternut, and acorn squash, in that order.
**I actually used rosemary the other night because it was what I had. It was fine, but sage is better.
***You don't need much. I did 3 turns of my nutmeg grinder. If you don't have whole nutmeg, a dash of ground would probably do.

1. Preparing the squash: Preheat the oven to 450. Melt 3 T butter. Slice squash in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds and strings (reserve the seeds and strings). Place the squash on a baking sheet, brush with the melted butter, and sprinkle with salt. Roast the squash in the middle of the oven until they are soft. (It took me about 45 minutes to roast delicatas the other night.) When the squash are cool enough to handle, scoop the flesh from the skin, mash with a fork, and set aside.

2. Preparing the broth: Place the broth and the reserved squash innards in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil and let simmer for about 20 minutes. Strain the broth into a measuring cup and discard the the seeds and strings. Return the broth to the pan along with about 2 cups of water (you'll need about 6 cups of liquid total). Cover and keep warm.

3. Preparing the rice: Melt 2T butter in a large, heavy pot, along with the olive oil. Saute the onion until it is translucent and soft, but don't let it brown. Add the rice and saute for a minute or two, coating the rice in the oil. Pour in the wine and stir until most of it is evaporated or absorbed. Begin adding the broth, about 1/2 to 1 cup at a time, stirring often and waiting for each cup to be mostly absorbed before adding more. After adding about 5 cups, taste the rice to see if it's soft enough. If not continue adding broth until it is.

4. Putting it all together: Add the rest of the butter, the cheese, the squash, the sage, and the nutmeg to the pan. Stir until the butter and the cheese are melted in and the squash is thoroughly mixed in.

5. Serve, sprinkled with more parmesan, and enjoy the praise of the people you are feeding.


The Sister said...

I'm assuming you didn't use chicken broth. What kind of broth do you use? Would it work with chicken broth?

Elizabeth said...

It would work with chicken broth. I didn't specify here because I figured not everyone making it would be vegetarian. Usually I make broth using vegetable bouillon, because I very rarely feel like making a vegetable stock. You can buy vegetable broth in cans or boxes, but bouillon does the trick and involves less packaging (and less space in the cupboard--we have an eensy little kitchen). Just don't use, like, beef stock. I think that would be too rich for this.

Mary Tsao said...

Wow. Sounds delicious. I'll have to give it a try this weekend.

I think we missed each other in Chicago by a week! Sounds like you had a nice time. And if we didn't believe you before when you wrote that you two were pizza lovers, we certainly do now!

The Sister said...

I finally made this last night. It was delicious. Robert and his parents thought so too. Robert mixed his turnip greens in with it and that was very tasty too.