Craving comforting, cheesy, and warm dishes during the winter is a normal situation in my household. January’s health goals often infringe on the desires of the heart, or rather, the stomach. Trying to maintain a balanced yet satisfying dish under such constraints is not impossible.
My go-to veggie that naturally adds creaminess is butternut squash. The fact that the name includes “butter” already causes my heart to stir with joy. Roasting simply with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper already brings comfort and creaminess.
Risotto may seem daunting to some as labor-intensive. Typically for rice, you add water, cover, and it’s done. Risotto needs to moderately absorb the liquid as it simultaneously releases creaminess. And when you think it can’t get any creamier, add parmesan and a touch of cream for the ultimate indugence. Top with some bacon for bacon aficionados, but it also stands outstanding on its own. Enjoy with a glass of wine! Cheers!
Butternut Squash Risotto
- Dutch Oven (or Instant Pot/Crockpot)
- 4 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 3 cups Butternut Squash cubbed
- 1 Yellow onion chopped
- 2 cloves Garlic finely chopped or minced
- 1 ½ cup Arborio rice
- ½ cup Dry White Wine such as Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay
- 4 ½ cup Vegetable or Chicken broth
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated plus more for topping
- 1 tbsp Basil torn or chopped
- ¼ cup Heavy cream
- 3 slices Bacon (optional) chopped for topping
- ½ tsp Kosher salt
- ¼ tsp Cracked Black Pepper
- Preheat oven to 425°. Peel and chop the butternut squash- about the equivalence of half of the squash.
- On a cooking sheet, evenly spread the chubbed butternut squash, and drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and sprinkle a nice pinch of salt on top. Mix with your hands. Roast in the oven for 10 minutes before turning them over for an additional 10 minutes or until golden brown, roasty! Optional, add a few slices of bacon on top of the butternut squash. It not only flavors the butternut squash, but you can break up the bacon and add before serving. Only cook for 7-8 minutes!
- Chop the onion. Add the stock of choice in a small saucepan and bring to a low simmer over medium heat. Grate the Parmesan, and set it aside. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a large dutch oven or a large pot. Add the onions and cook until translucent and slightly browned. Add the garlic, and stir. Once you smell the garlic, it's done cooking. (about 30 seconds). Add the rice, and toast for 2-3 minutes. Then add the white wine and stir until it evaporates.
- Use a ladle, add a spoonful of the warm stock to the rice, lower the heat to about medium so the rice gently bubbles. Cook, stirring often with a wooden spoon until the stock is absorbed. Repeat and cook the same way with the remaining stock.
- Taste the rice for doneness. It should be al dente but not crunchy. If it’s still a little crunchy, add more stock. The rice should take 20 to 25 minutes total to cook.
- Remove the roasted butternut squash, and scoop out about ½ cup and smooch them to a rough paste. Add it to the rice, and stir. The color will instantly change, and the texture will become more creamy.
- Turn the heat off, and add the cream and Parmesan, along with the remaining roasted butternut squash, and stir vigorously until melted and creamy. Stir in the salt and chopped basil. Taste for salt- you may want to add a little more. Serve topped with pepper, Parmesan, and bacon pieces (optional if you want to keep it vegetarian).