This autumn-inspired risotto shines as a gorgeous first course to your holiday dinner, featuring seasonal butternut squash, enhanced with saffron and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
Creamy, yet tender, risotto is simple to prepare, anticipate about 20 minutes cooking time. Short-grain Italian arborio rice is best for creating the creamy texture that is desired for risotto. Cook with low sodium broth because it is healthier and you can add more salt to the taste when risotto is finished. Tip: Use a heavy saucepan, never cover the cooking risotto and stir!
Next week's column will feature a delicious, healthy alternative to bread stuffing ... stay tuned!
Roasted butternut squash risotto
6 to 8 first course servings
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes (approximately 2 cups)
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, separated
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup dry white wine
8 cups low sodium vegetable broth
2 cups Arborio rice
3 saffron threads
2/3 to 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Sea salt and freshly ground black peppercorns
Roast the butternut squash:
Preheat oven to 400ºF. Place cubed squash on a parchment paper-lined sheet pan, drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Roast for 25 minutes, tossing halfway, until tender.
Add to a medium-size saucepan over medium-high heat, 1 tablespoon olive oil and butter. Before the butter completely melts, add rice. Cook, stirring frequently to coat, until opaque for 5 minutes. Add wine, stirring constantly to prevent sticking and until it has evaporated.
Add 1/3 cup of the broth, saffron and maintain a slow boil; stir continuously until broth is absorbed. Reduce heat to medium-low, add remaining broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until liquid is completely absorbed before adding the next, about 20 minutes. Test risotto that it is creamy in consistency and tender but still has a bite. Gently add in the roasted squash to cooked risotto.
Remove pan from heat, fold in grated cheese and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper; serve. You could transfer this to a covered casserole dish and place in a warm oven until ready to serve.