Two of the gifts which received for Christmas included a wonderful Vegetarian Cookbook entitled, Mediterranean Harvest (Author: Martha Rose Shulman) and a beautiful knife set. Naturally, we have been anxious to both of these to use. So, on Christmas, we randomly turned to three pages and wrote down three meals that we would try to make this week. Tonight we made the first of these, the Winter Squash Risotto. I had been wanting to try risotto for a while, having never done it, and we figured this would be an excellent recipe because winter squash is in season! Below is the recipe along with our changes/additions to the recipe in the cookbook. I must say, it turned out wonderfully and was so delicious. I’d definitely recommend it; it is hardy with just the right amount of sweetness.
7 cups Vegetable or Chicken Broth (We made vegetable broth from
scratch. The recipe can be found here.)
2 tablespoons olive oil or unsalted butter (We used olive oil)
1 small or 1/2 medium onion, chopped (We used about 1/3 of a medium
1 pound winter squash, any kind (We used part butternut and part
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1.5 cups arborio or carnaroli rice (We used arborio)
1/2 cup dry white wine (We used a sustainably farmed chardonnay- it
cost $6 for the bottle)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage, optional (We used this and I highly recommend it. It was 4 leaves)
1/4 to 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (We used 1/2 cup)
Freshly grated nutmeg (We didn’t put this in- didn’t have it in the pantry at the time)
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (We basically pulled about 10 leaves off and chopped them)
Salt and pepper
1. Place your broth into a saucepan and bring it to a simmer on the stove. You’re going to leave it simmering throughout the whole process. You will need a ladle nearby (we used a 1 cup measure). Make sure you like the flavor of the broth- if you make your own, ensure that it is well salted.
2. Heat the oil or butter/oil combination in a large nonstick skillet. We used a large frying pan, as that’s about all we had besides a wok. This recipe makes a large portion of risotto so be sure your pan is large! Add the onion to the oil and and cook it, stirring occasionally until the onion begins to soften. This takes 3 minutes on medium (1 notch away from being straight down for our stove- or a number 4).
3. After the 3 minutes in step#2, add the squash, garlic, and about 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Cook, stirring, until the squash begins to soften, about 3 minutes (our squash took more like 5 minutes).
4. Add the rice and cook, stirring, until the grains of rice separate. Now, what exactly this means, I am not sure. We basically stirred and cooked until it appeared as though the rice grains were not sticking as much to the squash (about 10 minutes).
5. Stir in the wine and cook stirring constantly. The wine should bubble but not to quickly (we found that we had to turn our heat down a pinch for here on out). When the wine has evaporated (aka there is no liquid in the pan), stir in a cup or two of broth so that it covers the rice and squash (our pan used two).
6. The broth should have a light boil (by this I mean not a rapid intense over the top of the pan boil, but a slow, won’t overflow, just beginning to boil, boil). Basically you cook the risotto and stir often until the liquid is absorbed. Then, you add the sage and another cup of broth. Again you stir and cook until the liquid is absorbed.
7. Continue to follow this process of adding broth and stirring/cooking until absorbed, then adding broth again until the rice is al dente or cooked to your taste. While the cookbook calls for 20 to 25 minutes, I probably cooked, added broth, and stirred for more like 35 minutes. You can taste and adjust seasonings- it was at this point that I added fresh ground pepper and salt.
8. When the rice is cooked to your liking, add 1/3 cup of the broth along with the Parmesan cheese and the parsley. You would also add the nutmeg at this point. Immediately remove the pan from the burner. Mix the risotto well, taste it, and adjust salt/pepper/other seasonings as you deem necessary. The rice should be creamy and you should serve immediately.
Again, this dish was absolutely delicious and I would recommend it to anyone who has a little bit of time to put into creating a delicious meal. Easily, removing the cooking your own broth would save about 45 minutes from chopping to boiling to simmering, but the homemade broth was worth the effort as well!