Butternut Squash (or Pumpkin) Risotto

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Adapted from Tyler Florence
Serves 4 to 6

Here’s Thanksgiving Recipe #1: The perfect fall side dish. Alongside the traditional mashed potatoes and stuffing, this creamy, comforting bowl of autumn fits in perfectly on your plate. Easy to make a day in advance, easy to store, and easy to enjoy. What I love about risotto is that it sounds really fancy, but it’s actually just a tad harder to make than rice (but way, way, way better than rice. Like not even a comparison).

When cooked, risotto has a creamy, porridge-like texture that is hard to beat. While it takes a bit of extra attention as you need to keep adding stock and stirring until it hits the right consistency, there’s really not much to cooking risotto. The butternut squash makes it even more comforting and also adds a pretty orange color. I tripled this recipe as a side dish for Thanksgiving dinner this year, and it turned out perfectly, so feel free to double or triple or quadruple as you please.

Originally, this recipe was supposed to be pumpkin risotto and not butternut squash, but my grocery store stops selling pumpkin shortly into November, so butternut squash was the second best option. I’m sure they taste very similar, anyway.

Ingredients:

~1 small pumpkin or 1 small butternut squash
~Extra-virgin olive oil
~Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
~2 cups Arborio rice
~1/4 cup shallots, diced
~1 cup dry white wine
~1 quart low-sodium chicken stock, heated
~1/2 stick unsalted butter
~1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
~Chopped sage (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Split pumpkin and scoop seeds out. If using squash, do the same. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper then roast in oven for about 40 minutes until tender. Puree in a food processor.

Place a large pot over medium heat and add a 3-count of olive oil. Add shallots and cook for 5 minutes, until soft. Stir in the rice, making sure to coat all the grains with the oil. Add wine and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Ladle in 1 cup of hot stock at time. Using a wooden spoon, stir gently until most of the stock has been absorbed. Keep adding stock, a cup at a time, and stirring. After about 10 to 15 minutes, test the rice. It should be cooked and creamy but still have a slight bite to it. Add water if you use all the stock. Season with salt and pepper; stir in butter and parmesan. Gently fold in roasted pumpkin or squash puree and give it a final taste and seasoning. If you’d like, stir in some chopped sage. Serve immediately as it will thicken as it cools.Happy dining!!

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