I did not know what risotto was until I started watching Gordon Ramsey on Hell’s Kitchen. But now that my eyes have been opened to this flavor-infused cheesy rice dish, I cannot stop eating it. True story. First, when I eat at any restaurant I go to that offers it, that’s what I order. No questions asked. And after eating it several times while out to eat, I finally bit the bullet and ventured into making it at home.
I procured this recipe from Clean Eating magazine, and I’ve made a few tweaks. It’s one of my favorite risottos to make because it is full of vegetables and hearty enough to make a meal out of it. I do not have a photo of the finished product for you because I have not figured out how to take a decent food picture with my iPhone.
- 3 cups peeled, diced fresh butternut or acorn squash
- Extra-virgin olive oil or olive oil cooking spray
- Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- 4 cups low-sodium organic chicken broth
- 1/2 cup onion, diced
- 1 T extra-virgin olive oil
- 8 oz mushrooms, sliced (I use dried or dehydrated mushrooms)
- 1 T garlic, minced
- 1 cup arborio rice
- 1 T fresh thyme leaves
- 1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas (thawed if frozen)
- 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss squash with a bit of olive oil or mist with cooking spray; season with salt and pepper. Spread squash in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until tender, about 25 minutes. Turn off oven, but leave squash in to keep it warm.
- Meanwhile, bring broth to a simmer in saucepan over medium heat; keep warm. If using dried or dehydrated mushrooms, let them hydrate in the broth until tender.
- While broth is heating, saute onion in one tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat for three minutes. Add mushrooms and saute until they start to soften, about five minutes. Add garlic and saute for one minute more. Add rice and stir to coat with oil and vegetables.
- Add 1/2 cup of warm broth; simmer and stir with a wooden spoon until liquid evaporates, about two minutes. Stir in another 1/2 cup of warm broth; simmer, stirring occasionally, until liquid is almost all evaporated. Continue adding broth in 1/2-cup increments, adding more only after previous addition has been absorbed. Taste rice after 3/4 of the broth has been added. Rice is done when it is tender but still slightly firm and white in the very center (not chalky). Continue adding broth until only 1/2 cup remains.
- Add thyme, peas, and cheese to rice and vegetables with the last 1/2 cup of broth; stir until the cheese melts, 1-2 minutes. Remove pan from heat before all the liquid is absorbed. Gently fold in the cooked squash and walnuts. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with additional thyme, if desired. Serve warm.