Butternut Squash Risotto

If you are still looking for that perfect Thanksgiving side dish, look no further! This rich and creamy risotto with butternut squash, sage and pine nuts is an excellent choice.

Many people believe that risotto is a time-consuming and labor-intensive dish to prepare. While you do have to stir it frequently, you still have plenty of time to prepare other foods or mingle with your guests. You only have to watch and stir it constantly for about 10 minutes. You can even enlist your family members to help with stirring in the last 10 minutes. ;) The result is a creamy, rich and flavorful risotto that just screams fall.

Butternut Squash Risotto

Yield: 4 servings as a main course or 6 servings as a side dish

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 butternut squash (about 2 pounds), peeled, seeded (fibers and seeds reserved), and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3/4 teaspoon table salt, divided
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 small onions, chopped very fine (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
2 cups Arborio rice
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1 1/2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 3/4 cup)
2 tablespoons minced fresh sage leaves
1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1/4 cup pine nuts , toasted in small, dry skillet over medium heat until golden and fragrant, about 5 minutes

Directions:

aspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1/4 cup pine nuts , toasted in small, dry skillet over medium heat until golden and fragrant, about 5 minutes

Directions:
In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat 2 tablespoons oil until shimmering but not smoking. Add about 3 1/2 cups squash in even layer and cook without stirring until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes; stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until squash is tender and browned, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.
Return skillet to medium heat and add reserved squash fibers, seeds and any leftover diced squash. Cook, stirring frequently until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Transfer to large saucepan and add chicken broth and water; cover and bring to a simmer over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low to maintain bare simmer.
Melt 3 tablespoons butter in now-empty skillet over medium heat; when foaming subsides, add onions, garlic, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Add rice to skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until grains are translucent around edges, about 3 minutes. Add wine and cook, stirring frequently, until fully absorbed, 4 to 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, strain hot broth through fine-mesh strainer into a medium bowl, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Return strained broth to saucepan and discard solids in strainer; cover saucepan and set over low heat to keep broth hot.
When wine is fully absorbed, add 3 cups hot broth and half of reserved squash to rice. Simmer, stirring every 3 to 4 minutes, until liquid is absorbed and bottom of pan is almost dry, about 12 minutes.
Stir in about 1/2 cup hot broth and cook, stirring constantly, until absorbed, about 3 minutes; repeat with additional broth 2 or 3 more times, until rice is al dente. Turn off heat and stir in remaining 1 tablespoon butter, Parmesan, sage, and nutmeg; gently fold in remaining cooked squash. If desired, add up to 1/4 cup additional hot broth to loosen texture of risotto. Top individual servings of risotto with toasted pine nuts; serve immediately.

Recipe Note: To make this dish vegetarian, vegetable broth can be used instead of chicken broth, but the resulting risotto will have more pronounced sweetness.

Source: adapted from Cook's Illustrated, September 2005

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