1 small Butternut squash (as close to 1 lb. as possible)
1 Large shallot
4 Fresh leeks
2 tbsp. Olive oil
1 c. Arborio rice
4 c. Low sodium chicken or vegetable broth; room temperature
1/2 c. Fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
1 c. Fresh shredded Parmesan cheese
Prep. Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Risotto is one of my favorite dishes for any time of year – the Arborio rice becomes tender and creamy with just the addition of some broth and a hand to stir the pot. (Seriously, there is absolutely no need for butter, cream, or excessive amounts of cheese to make this taste unbelievably rich!) The keys to a fantastic risotto with the perfect texture are low heat, constant gentle stirring, and patience. (That last one is hard for me, especially when I am hungry!) If you have extra, this also makes great leftovers and reheats well the next day. Pair it with a simple salad and you’ll have a delicious and easy lunch.
seasonal RECIPES for those who love to EAT
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1. Using a vegetable peeler or sharp paring knife, peel the butternut squash. Trim off the ends and cut in half,
length-wise. Scoop out seeds and discard. Dice enough squash into small pieces, between ¼ and ½ inch cubes, to give you about 2 cups worth. (If you have extra squash, put it in a zip-top bag and save it for another use; it will keep in the fridge for about a week.) Transfer diced squash to a large prep bowl and set aside.
2. Peel shallot and mince finely, add to the bowl with squash.
3. Rinse any remaining dirt from the leeks and trim the roots away. Chop the leeks into quarter rounds, about 1/4 inches thick. The easiest way to do this is to take a sharp chef’s knife, and cut the leek in half from the root end up through the light green portion. Roll the leek over a quarter turn and make the same cut. The leek should still be all in one piece, but if you look at it from the root end the cuts you just made form a “t” and the leek is divided into quarters. From here, simply slice the leek in 1/4 inch pieces from the root end up to the light green part. Transfer leeks to bowl with squash and shallot.
4. In a large, heavy stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the squash, shallot and leek mixture and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until leeks and shallot begin to brown and the squash is barely softening.
5. Add the rice to the pot and cook another 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently, to lightly toast the rice.
6. Slowly add about ½ cup of the broth to the pot, scraping any browned bits from the bottom. Stir gently.
7. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the broth has been absorbed by the rice. Repeat this process by adding 1/2 cup of broth at a time and stirring frequently, until you have incorporated all of the broth. The rice should be tender and the squash pieces should be cooked through. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.
8. Mince the parsley. Add it and 1/2 of the Parmesan cheese to the pot and stir to combine. Salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to four bowls and top with remaining cheese. Enjoy immediately.