keito potato

Butternut Squash Risotto
November 21, 2009, 6:14 pm
Filed under: main dishes, recipes | Tags: , , ,

I threw this risotto together last night. I had a butternut squash I needed to use, and realized I was in the mood for a risotto. So there you have it. The result was so perfect that I felt compelled to share the recipe with all of you. Some of my friends have confessed to me that they enjoy risottos in restaurants, but haven’t attempted them at home. Well, perhaps this is the season to try. The traditional risotto method is simple, and allows for infinite variations with seasonal vegetables.

The squash-walnut flavor combination was stirring in the back of my head because of some recent discussions about Thanksgiving menus. I also suspected that toasted walnuts would work because I always include them in my favorite beet risotto.

The magic of risotto is that the Arborio variety of rice is short and round, and gradually releases starch whilst cooking. This starch creates something resembling a creamy sauce (without the cream). For those of you who haven’t cooked risotto before, you slowly cook it in a big pot, lid off, with onions and white wine, stirring as you gradually add ladles of broth. Parmesan is added at the end — so if you like wine and parmesan, this is the rice dish for you. Quite a different method from basic steamed rice or a pilaf, but definitely not difficult.

A cast iron pot like Le Creuset is perfect. You will want something that conducts heat well and evenly. There are also lovely risotto pots in the shops with round bases, the perfect shape for continuous stirring (which by the way also makes them perfect for polenta.)

Arborio rice can easily be found in a brick-red box at Trader Joe’s.

6 cups vegetable broth
3/4 Cup walnuts
2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
1 small yellow onion, finely minced
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 Cups Arborio rice
1/2 Cup dry white wine
3 Cups tightly diced butternut squash
salt and pepper
3/4 cup grated parmesan


Toast the walnuts in a 300F oven. They will toast while you are working on everything else. Eventually when they smell good, keep checking them until they are deeply brown in color, but not quite burnt. The darker the color, the more intense the flavor. Let them cool a bit, then finely mince them with a big knife.

Finely mince the onion. Mince the garlic. Peel and dice the butternut squash into small cubes about 1/3 – 1/2 inch thick.

Simmer the vegetable broth in a small saucepan. (You will be gradually incorporating this hot broth into the risotto.)

Heat the olive oil or butter in a heavy pot. Saute the onion for a minute. Add the garlic, and continue to saute for 2-3 more minutes. Add the Arborio rice, and stir until well coated.

Add the wine, and stir constantly until it is absorbed into the rice. At this point, add the butternut squash, and 1/2 cup of the broth, still stirring. When the broth is absorbed, add another 1/2 cup of broth. From now on, continue to add 1/2 cup of the broth at a time every 2-3 minutes, whenever the rice starts to look a little dry. You don’t necessarily need to stir constantly, but you do need to stir frequently enough to keep the bottom from sticking. Sometimes I read a book while stirring risotto or polenta.

It will take about 18-25 minutes for the rice to cook. Taste for salt and pepper. Stir in the parmesan and minced walnuts. Serve immediately.

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