I have never made risotto before. There, I said it. Can I be trusted as a culinary expert? Certainly not (but luckily, I never claimed I could, so really this shouldn't dent my reputation in the kitch). Rather, I should say I never made risotto before last night. But then I did. And it was SO GOOD (yes, all caps inspiring). I had no idea risotto could be that good. Makes you want to keep reading, right?
As many of my ideas for what to make do, it all started with a single ingredient. (Robyn was poking fun at me earlier in the week for the way my white button mushrooms last week somehow turned into filet mignon. What can I say? That's how it happened.) This time, it all started with the squash.
"Winter squash" is what it was called on the weekly newsletter that came in the CSA box. Hm. It looked like this:
A quick search on my new favorite squash website (what would any of us do without Google?) taught me that this is carnival squash. "The delicious yellow meat is reminiscent of sweet potatoes and butternut squash and can be baked or steamed then combined with butter and fresh herbs." Perfect! Last weekend, on my birthday trip to Monterey, JR and I ate at a fantastic restaurant. One of the items on the menu was a butternut squash risotto, which I thought sounded interesting, but I couldn't pass up the seafood entrees, which were the restaurant's specialty. Still the thought of risotto stayed with me...
This particular recipe is based on one from Vegetarian Food for Friends, which Marika gave me for my birthday (thanks, Marika!). My twist was using the carnival squash to replace the butternut squash called for in the original recipe. It totally worked. JR's comment was that we can't really eat in restaurants anymore, because nothing matches up to the food he gets at home (awwww!). The only thing I'd do differently next time would be to use a little more sage - it tastes so perfect with the squash! Here's what I did:
1 squash (the original recipe calls for butternut, but as mentioned, I used a carnival squash and it turned out great)
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
a handful of fresh oregano leaves, chopped finely
10 sage leaves (if I were to do it again, I'd use maybe 15)
1 1/4 c. arborio rice
5 c. hot vegetable stock (I used mushroom stock)
3/4 c. white wine (I used sauvignon blanc)
1 tsp. lemon juice
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Roast the squash. Cut in half, scoop out the seeds, brush the cut half with oil and place cut side down in a baking dish. The carnival squash took about 40 minutes in a 400 degree oven. If you're using butternut squash, you'll probably need an hour or so. In either case, roast until it's soft and the flesh can be scooped out easily with a spoon. Once cool enough to handle, scoop the flesh into a bowl and set aside.
Put the butter, 2 Tbsp. olive oil, and garlic in a large saucepan. Cook gently for 2 minutes, then add oregano, sage, and rice. Let the rice absorb the buttery juices, then stir in a ladle of the hot stock. Wait until the stock has been absorbed, then add the wine and the rest of the stock, one ladle at a time, making sure it has been completely absorbed between each addition (you'll be stirring pretty constantly between the additions). Stir in the squash, mashing it with the back of a wooden spoon. Stir in the lemon juice and add salt and pepper to taste.
Top with a generous spoonful of marscapone.
Yum. Yum. Yum. That's all I have to say right now.