Butternut Squash Risotto Two Ways
Is there any vegetable more plentiful at this time of year than butternut squash? Do you ever wonder why it seems every restaurant in our region has butternut squash soup on the menu? I am always thinking of new ways to use squash, and a few nights ago I made a warming, not-too-rich risotto with fall crops—butternut squash and leeks. You can take this dish in two directions. You can season lightly with Asian flavors—and a gentle touch of fire to spar with the sweet squash—or with cheese and aromatic sage or green peppercorns. I like it both ways and so do my guests.
—Amy Cotler, author, The Locavore Way: Discover and Enjoy the Plesaures of Locally Grown Food (Storey Publishing)
Butternut Squash Risotto
1-1/4 cups chopped leeks, whites and tender greens
2 tablespoons sweet butter
2 cups arborio or sushi rice
1/3 cup dry sherry, or 1/2 cup dry vermouth or 1/2 cup white wine
2 cloves minced garlic
2 cups diced butternut squash (small dice)
about 7-8 cups chicken or vegetable stock, homemade if possible
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
Optional: Along with the leeks, add handful of shiitake or any local mushroom caps, sliced.
Choose one way to season it:
About 1 teaspoon fresh chopped sage or 20 dried green peppercorns
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan or any hard local cheese
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon grated ginger, or to taste
Freshly ground or crushed Schwehan peppercorns (or black pepper), to taste
1. Cook the leeks in the butter, in a medium pot, over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until transparent but not brown, about 3 minutes. Add the rice, sherry or vermouth or white wine, garlic and butternut squash. Stir frequently, until all the liquid is evaporated, about 1- 2 minutes.
2. Choose one of the ways to season the risotto. For the first, add the dried sage or dried peppercorns now. For the second, add the ginger now.
3. Add the broth 1 cup at a time, stirring frequently, until the rice absorbs the broth before each new addition, about 2 - 3 minutes each. (The risotto should bubble by the edges, but not boil rapidly, so adjust heat as you see fit.)
4. The risotto is done when it is creamy, but the rice is still just a touch firm and the texture is like a thick, creamy stew, about 20 minutes or so. When done, you can add stock as you see fit, as some people like it thicker or thinner.
5. Finish by adjusting the seasonings. Taste: Add extra ginger or sage, if you used them and feel it’s necessary. Stir in the cheese, if you are using it. Finally, salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately in warm bowls.