Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Butternut Squash Risotto

Risotto is one of my all-time favorite winter dishes.  Why, you ask?  Well, let's see:
1) Risotto is insanely delicious.
2) It is easy to make, but people think it is hard to make, so you are bound to score extra points for preparing it, without actually having challenged yourself very much at all.  Brilliant.
3) Risotto has a thousand permutations, each more delicious than the last: primavera (every veggie under the sun), wild mushroom (think shitakis, chanterelles, baby bellas... whatever looks great at the market), sausage and sweet pea, or butternut squash, just to name a few inspirations.
4) It is cheap, stick-to-your-ribs, peasant food at its very best, so you get recession points too.  The recipe below costs no more than $10 in total, and could provide a lovely dinner for 8, or lots of lunches and dinners throughout the week for a busy couple.
5) Risotto is comfort food that is actually healthy.  The creaminess in risotto comes from the arborio rice; there is no need to add any cream.  A bit of olive oil to start the recipe and a sprinkle of parmesan at the finish represent all of the (healthy) fat that is called for.  Impressive, no?
6) In the winter, what could be better than standing by a warm stove, sipping a glass of wine and stirring, stirring, stirring a beautiful, bubbly pot of warm, creamy goodness?  Your face gets warm from the heat of the stove and the wine, and suddenly you feel less angry about living in a place where the high temperature of the day was 12 degrees.  TWELVE.
In short, I love risotto.  With a passion.  And because I feel I haven't been giving my vegetarians enough love, here is my favorite veggie spin on the peasant food of the gods.

Butternut Squash Risotto
Olive oil
1 butternut squash
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup of arborio rice
8 cups of veggie (or chicken) stock
Salt, pepper, paprika and Herbs de Provence
Parmesan cheese for garnish
1) Preheat the oven to 425.  Halve and de-seed the squash. Place on a baking sheet.  Rub each half with about a tablespoon of olive oil.  Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.  Roast in the oven until fork-tender, about an hour.  Let the squash cool, then remove the skin, and cut into cubes.
(Note: I reserved about a quarter of the squash pictured below for Baby J, who loooooves butternut squash.  Last night we gave him pasta, squash and turkey, and he picked out all the squash and only ate that. What an awesome little veggie-chowing guy!)

2)  Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in heavy skillet.  Add the onions and saute until clear.
3)  Add the rice.  You are going to be stirring constantly for awhile now, so get what you need to stand by the stove for a bit - a beverage, a snack, whatever.  Stir the rice as it heats.  The grains will eventually start to become translucent and toasty.  At this point, start gradually adding broth.
4) You ideally would want to heat the broth in a pot next to the risotto pan and add warm cupfuls at broth one at a time, stirring constantly, and adding more as the rice absorbs the liquid.  However, last night I didn't feel like having an extra pot to wash, so I just added it cold from the container and that worked just as well. Continue adding the broth until enough has absorbed that the rice is soft but still toothsome.  Doneness is really a personal preference with risotto, so taste frequently.
5) When the risotto is cooked to your desired doneness, add the squash cubes and stir to combine.  Season with salt, pepper, paprika and Herbs de Provence to taste.  Garnish with parmesan cheese.
This recipe makes about 8 servings, and reheats beautifully as leftovers!
One note about the Cleanse: I've gotten a few e-mails inquiring about the cleanse recipes today that lead me to think there is a bit of confusion about where to find details.  Most of the recipes are within two cleanses on the GOOP site: one from New York City's Organic Avenue and the other from Dr. Alejandro Junger.  Any recipes that aren't there are in a separate document that I've prepared that I am happy to share via e-mail.  Just e-mail me at sweetmamajane@gmail.com!


  1. I can't wait to make this. I love risotto, I love squash, and I love an excuse to slow down and sip/stir by the stove. Thanks, SMJ!

  2. I tried the recipe - very good! But used half the amount of broth and it turned out fine. Also bought cut up cubed squash at Trader Joe's and they only had to cook about 25 min in my oven before then started to burn! Overall good meal though! thanks - Carrah

  3. I made this yesterday -it was FAB-I 2nd Carrah on only needing 4 cups of broth. I splurged on some nice Parm and it was yummy!