Since today is World Vegetarian Day, I thought I’d share a great meatless dish that includes the wonderful aforementioned butternut squash in a delicious, creamy white wine risotto. If you’ve never made it before, risotto can seem really intimidating, but it isn’t as difficult as you think! It’s true that it requires almost-constant attention, but if you prep all of your ingredients beforehand, there’s really nothing to it. Maybe you’ve heard the term mise en place (literally, “put in place” in French) as a way to describe an organized, efficient cooking set-up. When you’re making a dish like risotto, nothing is more important than having everything ready to go within arm’s reach. The last thing you want to do is have to is try to grate cheese and measure out broth while you’re trying to stir the rice. Unless you’re an octopus…then I’m pretty sure you’d be fine no matter what.
Just to prove to you how not-scary making risotto is: I had never even thought of attempting to make this dish until it appeared in my lab manual for my Intro to Food and Food Sciences class. I let one of my lab partners make it that day because I was too afraid I’d mess it up. Then I had to make it for my final exam having absolutely no experience other than watching someone else do it. I got an A. So trust me, you can do this. I even made this recipe a mazillion (yes, mazillion. It’s a real number, says my friend Dina…who also once misspoke and said she wanted purple-shaped pins…) times easier than the original version. FN Mag said to buy 3 different kinds of mushrooms and make your own mushroom stock. No, no. I don’t have time for that nonsense. If you do, more power to you. Let me know how that turns out. I’ll stick with my chicken stock, thanks very much.
Mushroom & Butternut Squash Risotto
Adapted from Food Network Magazine, October 2012
Makes 4 servings
4 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
½ medium onion, finely chopped
2 cups mushrooms*, chopped
2 cups butternut squash, diced (half a medium squash)
1 cup Arborio rice
1 cup white cooking wine
3 cups low-sodium or homemade chicken broth
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt & pepper to taste
2 tbsp. chopped parsley + extra for garnish
*The original recipe called for porcini, shiitake, and cremini mushrooms. I used baby bella because that’s what was on sale and I was NOT about to hunt down all those mushrooms. Just use your favorite variety or combination of mushrooms.
Heat 2 tablespoons of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan. Add garlic, red pepper flakes, onion, mushrooms and squash and cook for 5 minutes over medium heat. Add rice and toast for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add wine and simmer, stirring until absorbed. Repeat with the broth, adding one cup at a time and stirring until fully absorbed before adding the next cup.
Once all broth has been absorbed, remove from heat and stir in the remaining butter, cheese, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste and garnish with more parsley before serving.