Tuesday, October 18, 2011

butternut bliss

Thanks for the picture, Williams-Sonoma.  Feel free to use one of mine.  Please?

You may be wearing your flannel pj's, drinking hot chocolate and watching leaves fall like rain outside, but until you've had roasted butternut squash risotto, you haven't really celebrated fall.  Dramatic, I know, but I love the stuff.  Let's continue celebrating fabulous fall, shall we?  My risotto recipe makes enough for about 4 people.  And remember, leftovers are your friend, and this risotto might just be your best friend. 

This picture's just to inspire you.  Because cutting up a butternut squash is not for the faint of heart (or dull of knife), so you're going to need all your courage.  Deep breath, here we go...

Let me walk you through how I do it.  Thank your butternut for contributing to a delicious autumnal feast.  Then, cut a bit off the top and bottom (so it's flat on the bottom and top) and cut crosswise in three large pieces.

Sit up each little section and use your knife to work your way down the sides and take the peel off.

You'll be left with three little stumpy guys.

Do whatever you like with these: make an autumn wreath out of them to show you've conquered the mighty butternut or...compost 'em.  It's up to you.

Now take the bottom third of the squash, cut in half and scoop out the seeds and that weird alien pumpkinish gooey stuff.

Slice each section into thick rounds, slice again to make little rectangles...

 and then cube them up.  You didn't expect this to be a basic math refresher, did you?

Now comes what takes those golden cubes to a whole new level: rosemary.  Woodsy (in a good way — not a 2x4 kind of way), fragrant, piney, yum.  Chop finely, because that delightful herb when roasted turns into little sharp sticks that are not so fun to swallow.  Trust me.  Tiny is better.

Toss that yummy butternut with salt, pepper, olive oil and the rosemary and roast at 400ºF/200ºC, stirring twice or so, for 25-30 minutes.  They're done when the squash is soft and starting to caramelize on the outside.

Like this.  I should warn you: at this point you will be tempted to just stand at the kitchen counter and pop these golden squares of goodness straight into your mouth, not even bothering with the risotto.  It's okay, I won't judge.  They are creamy, crunchy, divine.

If you somehow manage to resist eating all of the butternut squash, let's get going on the risotto.  (The best way to be sure you actually do complete this recipe is to, of course, roast the squash at the same time you're making the risotto.  I believe it's what people refer to as "multitasking.")  Chop one onion and three cloves of garlic.  Put 4 cups of low-sodium chicken stock in a saucepan and simmer on low.

Saute the onions in a deep, heavy-bottomed pan in a little olive oil and 1 T of butter with a dash of s&p, until soft.  Add the garlic and cook for another few minutes.

You need some of this fancy schmancy arborio rice.  It's Italian, short-grained (short is cool) and even Julia Child could't make decent risotto without it.

 Add 1 cup of rice and stir in the hot oil & butter for a few minutes until translucent.

(This is what it will look like.) 

 Ladle in (or cup measure in, I suppose) some of the chicken stock...

and stir, stir, stir, adding more stock as needed when the rice absorbs most of it.  It will take a little less than 20 minutes in total, until the rice is al dente, which is fancy  Italian lingo for good-n-done, but not soggy.

 In the meantime, grate about 1/2 cup of parmesan.

Remember those butternut bites of joy?  Like you could forget them!  Take about a fourth of them and stuff them all in your mouth at once blend in a food processor with about 1/4 cup of chicken stock.

 Beautiful, huh?

Stir the puree into the risotto and watch it change color from calm cream to outstanding orange.  Lovely.

Add in the rest of the butternut squash and the cheese and stir to combine.  Adjust salt and pepper if you need to.  The parm has some saltiness to it, so be sure to only adjust salt after adding that.

Enjoy this decadent taste of fall.  The butternut squash puree gives it a sublime creaminess and the rosemary adds the perfect hint of earthiness.  You'll love it, I promise.  And coming soon, I'll share my pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.  Can you tell why fall is my favorite season?

Bon appetit!


  1. Yum, I cooked the last of the garden fresh yellow squash tonight. twas good!

  2. Yum! I really love my veggies.