Butternut Squash Risotto

It is FREEZING here this morning, a whopping 30 degrees when I got out of bed. That pretty much makes me want to climb back into bed and stay there, bear-style, until spring. This week calls for the closing of the storm windows and the construction of window snakes, which I also like to call draft dodgers in my less PC moments. Brr. The lovely fall is suddenly sending harsh reminders that winter comes next.

One perk about fall, though, is the onslaught of winter squash. When I was a kid I was not a fan of winter squash as it only came in two varieties: pureed and as Creamy Winter Soup, a concoction my mother loves but of which I was never a fan. My favorite use of winter squash, unsurprisingly, is in risotto. I made this dish on Saturday night when some old friends made the trek from our Old City to our New Town in the New State. They said it was tasty, so I’m sharing it with you.

This makes a boatload of risotto, which is not a bad thing; we got seven servings out of it and had we a side veggie, we probably would have gotten 8 or 9.

You’ll need:
1 3-pound butternut squash
6 c veggie broth
2 c arborio rice
2 T olive oil
2 onions, chopped
1/3 bottle of white wine
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 pinches sage
2 T butter
3/4 c or so grated parmesan cheese

Begin by CAREFULLY peeling the squash, cutting it open, and taking out the seeds. Those of you–maybe there’s one–who have been with me since the beginning may recall that there was once a time when I was not so careful peeling and halving butternut squash and have a lovely scar on my thumb to prove it. So watch what you’re doing, and always move away from you with sharp knives.

Chop the squash into 3/4″ dice and toss with olive oil and a little salt and pepper on a cookie sheet. Put into a 350 degree oven for a half hour, turning once. Near the end I cranked the oven up to 450 for ten minutes to get something of a crust on the squash, but my pieces were a little too close together to caramelize much. At any rate, set squash aside when you’re done. I did this several hours in advance.

In a deep skillet or saucepan, add 2 T of olive oil over medium-high heat, and then add onion and garlic, stirring constantly, for 10 minutes until softened. Get your broth simmering in a pan next to the main one. Add rice to the onion and stir until the grains are translucent but for a white dot in their centers. Add wine to cover and stir until evaporated. Then begin to add the broth to just cover the rice, stirring until it’s absorbed, before adding more. Do this until the rice is al dente–firm, but not hard–and the whole pot has a creamy consistency, 18-20 minutes. Then add your squash back in, stirring to warm it up. Add butter, stirring to melt, and take off the heat. Add cheese and test for seasoning, adding a couple of pinches of sage. We added a little more salt and called it a day.

I could eat risotto nearly every day and be very happy but also much heavier than I am! It’s just so good, especially on these cold fall days. Enjoy!

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