>Last year I fell in love with butternut squash. I came to it with the gusto of young love, delighting in its bright color and sweet flavor. Every week, I made vats and vats of roasted butternut squash soup and served it roasted as a simple side dish.
And when the crocuses began to poke through the snow, the squash quality waned and began to dry out, I mourned the end of our affair… right up until the spring peas hit the stands.
This fall, when the butternut squash gourds returned to the produce stands, I greeted them like a familiar friend, excited to catch up and get reacquainted. My first batch of apple and butternut squash soup was even better than I remembered, but I was ready to do more, to try new dishes and challenge the squash in different ways.
Last night I took my butternut squash to Italy and folded it into risotto after roasting it with some olive oil and maple syrup. The sweet roasted squash paired up with the salty and creamy risotto perfectly. Steve and I walked away from the table in a contented fall-food coma.
And if the word risotto scares you, making you picture yourself sweating and stirring over a hot stove, read this recipe. You don’t need to stir it constantly and this is such a satisfying dish – I know you’ll add it to your repertoire once you’ve tried it.
Butternut Squash Risotto
1 Butternut Squash
4 tablespoons of olive oil
1/4 cup of maple syrup (preferably grade B or dark amber)
salt and pepper
4 to 6 cups of chicken stock
4 tablespoons of salted butter
1 1/2 cups of arborio rice
1 large minced shallot (1/3 cup)
2 slices of bacon, minced
1/2 cup of white wine
3/4 cup of freshly grated parmesan
Preheat oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit.
Peel and cut butternut squash into large chunks, removing all seeds. Toss in large bowl with olive oil and maple syrup. Pour into rectangular Pyrex dish and roast in oven for 30 minutes, until tender.
Heat the chicken stock in a saucepan or in the microwave.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add minced shallots and bacon. Cook over medium heat until shallots are translucent and soft and bacon is cooked but not burned, about 10 minutes.
Add rice and stir well to coat with butter and bacon grease. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes to boil off the wine-y taste.
Add 2 cups of stock. Stir and simmer until the stock is absorbed. Continue to add more stock every time the mixture seems to be a little dry, 2 cups at a time, stirring occasionally. After four cups of stock have been added, begin tasting the rice to see if it is done to your liking. All of the stock additions should take about 30 minutes.
Remove the squash from the oven. Cut the pieces into small dice.
When the rice is done enough, take off the heat and fold in the diced squash and the parmesan. Toss gently and serve immediately.