Note: Sorry for the lack of food photos, but our camera is still waiting to be unpacked.
When we moved to Virginia from Connecticut, we expected to enjoy a nice mild winter, but one week into our new southern life we got hit with a storm that dumped four inches of snow and ice upon us. We could have reacted to this cosmic joke with bitterness, but instead we decided to celebrate the onset of winter by using up part of our butternut squash collection (among the last offerings from the past summer's CSA box).
We got this recipe years ago from our friend Ed Lempinen, and it has served us well whenever we crave cold-weather comfort food.
Butternut Squash and Sage Risotto
1 medium butternut squash
1 largish but not gigantic onion
2 hefty cloves garlic
1 T. olive oil
6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1 T chopped fresh sage (more if you love sage)
5 T. grated parmesan cheese
salt, pepper to taste
1. Halve, peel, and seed the squash. Cut into half-inch cubes, scatter them on an oiled baking sheet, and roast them in a 425-degree oven until they are soft—about half an hour. When they're done, turn off the oven, but leave the pan in the oven so the cubes can caramelize while you prepare the risotto.
2. Bring the stock to a simmer and leave it simmering throughout the preparation of the risotto.
3. While the stock is heating, finely chop the onion and garlic. Heat the olive oil in a good-size heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven.
4. Sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil. When they are soft and beginning to brown, add the rice, and stir it in the oil and vegetables for a couple of minutes.
5. Add one cup of the hot stock, and stir until it is almost absorbed by the rice. Then add one-half cup of stock and stir until that is almost incorporated. Keep adding stock in half-cup increments. stirring constantly but gently, until the rice is cooked to your satisfaction. This should take almost all of the stock and 15 to 20 minutes of stirring. You want the rice cooked but not overcooked and gummy.
6. When you are satisfied that the rice is done, add the chopped sage and parmesan. Taste and add salt and pepper—a hearty grinding of pepper is good, but the salt will be determined by the cheese and stock you use.
7. When the cheese is melted into the risotto, stir in the roasted squash cubes and serve, with extra grated parmesan on the side.
This dish goes wonderfully with any wine, but a crisp Chardonnay is especially delicious.