It also may be time to admit that butternut squash is becoming one of my favourite foods. There's nothing I like as much as a good squash soup, and it lends itself well to pasta. There's this earthy, slightly sweet, creaminess to a well roasted piece of squash that just works. This risotto though might be the pinacle of squash goodness. The caramelized squash cubes blend so beautifully with the creaminess of the risotto and the sharp accent of the parmesan.
To be honest, the squash risotto may also be my best risotto so far. At least it's definitely had the best reactions.
Carmelized Butternut Squash Risotto
- 1 medium butternut squash, cut into 1 inch cubes
- 1 small sweet onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
- 4-6 cups of chicken or vegetable stock, gently simmering
- 1 cup white wine or juice (optional)
- 3/4 cups grated parmesan cheese
- 2 tbsp + 1 tbsp olive oil
- Preheat oven to 375*. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, spread the squash cubes in one even layer across the sheet. Drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil and about 1/2 tsp salt and place in the oven.
- Set a timer for 40 minutes.
- Bring a small saucepan with the stock to a boil on a back burner of the stove. Leave this simmering through the rest of the cooking process.
- In a large soup pot or dutch oven, heat remaining 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, saute about 10 minutes or until the onions are translucent.
- Add the arborio rice to the mix. Stir until evenly coated with the oil and occasionally after. This part takes about 5 minutes and you're looking for the rice to start to smell a little bit nutty, and the edges may begin to brown.
- Reduce heat to medium-low. At this point you'll want to add your first infusion of liquid. If you have wine or juice (apple or white grape would be best here, in my mind) add that to the pot. If not, just add a cup of your stock. Stir frequently as the liquid absorbs to the rice.
- Continue to add stock, one ladelful at a time (approximately 1/2 to 3/4 cups at a time) and stirring as the liquid is absorbed. It should be about 3-5 minutes per ladelful. You don't need to be tied completely to the stove at this point but you don't want to walk away for very long. This needs to be stirred at least every 15 seconds or so as the liquid absorbs. The slow addition of the liquid is what creates that creamy risotto taste.
- When you've added at least 4 cups of stock, take a look at your rice. If it's creamy and kind of loose (if you run your spoon through it and the rice moves to fill the gap) it's time to taste things. Try a couple of grains of rice as a start. You want the rice to have a bite similar to al dente pasta.
- If the rice tastes good, procede to the next step. If not, keep adding liquid till you get that consistency.
- Add another ladelful of stock to your rice. Stir as it absorbs.
- Remove the squash from the oven and transfer your cubes into the risotto. Stir to evenly distribute the squash.
- Add a final ladelful of stock to the risotto. Stir until incorporated.
- Remove from the heat and stir in your cheese.
- Serve, garnish with more parmesan if desired.