Sunday, October 5, 2014

Butternut Squash & Sage Risotto - autumnal dreaminess

Fall is all about delicious warm comforting treats. Foods that fight that first chill that goes to the bones. Foods that you can eat leftovers of for days and still feel totally fulfilled by.

Butternut squash risotto is one of my favorite fall recipes. I love the perfectly autumnal orange color the squash gives the dish, the slight sweetness, and how the mushroom broth and fresh sage complement each other and give it this earthy full flavor.

This recipe is pretty similar to my previous one. That's the magic of risotto - the base stays the same but the flavors and textures can be anything that you think is scrumptious together.

4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 white onion, chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 quart mushroom broth
1 bag frozen cubed organic butternut squash 
(I know fresh is always best, but cubed/frozen is seriously so much easier. Buy the organic one, it's fine).  
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1 big handful of chopped fresh sage
Dried oregano, to taste (1 tablespoon-ish)
Dried sage, to taste (1 tablespoon-ish)
2 tablespoons Earth Balance butter
2 tablespoons Toffutti vegan cream cheese (optional) or 1 handful Daiya mozzarella cheese (optional)
1 cup white wine, room temperature
Pumpkin seeds, toasted (to sprinkle on top)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Risotto party:
In a small saucepan on a back burner, heat the mushroom broth and keep at low heat to ensure it stays warm. Heating the broth is crucial, the grains get funky if you pour in room-temperature broth.

In a larger pot, sautee the chopped onion in delicious Sicilian Olive Oil (if possible) on low, until golden. Then throw in the garlic and Arborio rice. Stir with a wooden spoon to ensure all grains are coated in oil and that neither grains nor garlic are burning. Just keep stirring, just keep stirring, stirring, stirring, stirring, stirring. (Think Dory in Finding Nemo).Once the rice becomes a bit translucent, pour in the white wine, then the warm/hot broth cup by cup. Constantly stir to keep from anything sticking to the bottom of the pot.

As you add in the broth, be sure to add the butter, parsley, salt and pepper to taste. Add in the butternut squash once you're about 15 minutes in. If you add it too early, the squash just disintegrates and I prefer chunks that you can see on your fork to squash-mush in my risotto. Once the broth is near gone and the grains have absorbed most of it, add in the cream cheese if you desire. 

Stir stir stir, let sit for few minutes, and top with another sprinkle of fresh parsley and the toasted pumpkin seeds.

Leftover tip:
I always love risotto the day after it is cooked. The flavors have all had more time to flourish and become even more delectable. Plus it's sticky and easy to make into risotto cakes or arancine. I made the leftovers from this recipe into cakes by forming into patties, coating in glutenfree breadcrumbs, and lightly frying in a bit of organic vegetable oil.

We served our risotto with home-made kale chips and a vegan cheese plate with gluten-free and traditional crackers, and garlic-herb nut cheese. 

 Fresh sage is so soft and pretty!

Frozen cubed butternut squash is a modern miracle.