Saturday, March 27, 2010

Butternut Squash Risotto with Spinach and Pine Nuts

In one word: comfort food. Risotto is so versatile and although it does require near-constant stirring, is actually incredibly easy to make. This one is perfect for one of fall's favourite vegetables: the squash.

Ingredients:

  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled and cubed (seeds discarded)
  • 1 medium white onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup good dry white wine
  • about 6 cups of low-sodium chicken stock, heated in a saucepan
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 3-4 cups spinach, roughly chopped
  • 4 tbsp pine nuts
  • parmesan cheese (none of the pre-grated stuff!)
  • olive oil
  • butter (about 2 tbsp)
  • salt & pepper
  1. Toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan over medium heat until golden (careful not to burn these puppies - they're expensive!). Set aside.
  2. Place a large pan on medium-high heat and add about 2tbsp olive oil. Heat until hot but not smoking. Add in the butternut squash and cook until just browned on both sides. Be careful not to overcook - you don't want them mushy. Season with salt & pepper and set aside.
  3. Melt the butter with about 1 tbsp olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add the rice and cook, stirring until the rice sounds like glass beads (about a minute or so).
  4. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until the wine has almost evaporated. Then, add the heated chicken stock a couple ladlefuls at a time. This is where the stirring comes in (or you'll end up with rice instead of creamy risotto). Cook, stirring, until most of the liquid has evaporated but you're not scraping the rice off the bottom of the pan. Continue to add in stock a bit at a time. Just keep adding and stirring until the rice is almost cooked through - you want it a bit al dente. You should have a slighly creamy liquid around the risotto (that's the starch it's released). Note: if you run out of stock before the rice is done, just use water. I promise it won't change a thing.
  5. Once the rice is done - just barely al dente - add in a pat of butter (adds a nice sheen), and toss in the pine nuts, squash and spinach. Cook until spinach has wilted and everything is heated through. 
  6. Stir in about 1/2 cup of grated parmesan. Serve immediately (or it will be a gluey mess) with additional parmesan to add as desired. Enjoy!

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