Recipe: Butternut squash risotto

by Julie Snyder

Butternet Squash RisottoThere's something fancy and comforting about risotto. It can make an entire meal or serve as a side dish. You can add all sorts of veggies or meats to change up the flavors.

Called Italy’s most famous rice dish, risotto knows how to showcase the bounty of any season. In the summer, you might use zucchini or broccoli florettes. As we head into the fall and winter holidays, roasted butternut squash makes a comforting seasonal addition to a holiday meal.

Butternut squash risotto might not push the cornbread dressing or sweet-potato casserole off your holiday table, but there's no reason it couldn't show up the next day.

Butternut squash risotto

Prep time: 10 minutes | Total time: 30 minutes | Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients

• 1 large butternut squash, peeled and seeded
• 8 cups vegetable or chicken broth
• 3 tablespoons butter
• 1 1/4 cups finely chopped onion
• 1 small red pepper, finely diced
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 cups short-grained Arborio rice
• 1/2 cup dry white wine
• 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
• 1/4 cup whipping cream
• salt and pepper to taste
• chopped scallions or green pepper for garnish

Directions

Cut the squash into 1/2- to 3/4-inch cubes.

In a large pot, bring the broth to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and cover to keep warm.

In a pot or Dutch oven, heat the butter over medium heat. Sauté the onion, bell pepper and garlic until the onion begins to soften. Add the rice and saut&eactue; until it turns translucent. Stir in the wine and cook one minute.

Add 1/2 cup broth to the rice. Continue to stir as it cooks. Once most of the liquid is absorbed, Repeat procedure until the rice is full cooked, adding 1/2 cup broth at a time. If you run out of stock before the rice is fully cooked just add a little water.

Take off the heat and add the cheese and cream. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer it to a large serving bowl, top with a few scallions and serve immediately. It pairs well with pork loin roast, cinnamon stewed apples and Brussels sprouts.

Cook's note

The whipping cream and butter make this dish more rich than some other risottos. If you're counting calories, you can make a a couple ingredients to make it more heart-healthy without substantially changing the flavor.

Substitute 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil for the butter as you sauté your vegetables.

The real creaminess in risotto comes from the rice, not the milk fat, so you could use half and half, whole milk or simply omit the whipping cream.

Do you find risotto the perfect comfort food? What do you add to yours?

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.