Sunday, January 30, 2011


I love weekends.  I can cook AND post twice in one day.

I was doing our weekly "meal plan," which is a rough idea of what we'll be eating each night and is usually sabotaged by exhaustion and/or crankiness one night so we eat out, and I thought, "I really need to do something with the butternut squash we have from our share...which ended in November."  While they look just as lovely as ever on the outside, and they keep for a long time, the passing months are doing no favors to the squash. 

The problem is that a medium-sized butternut squash is too much for one meal (with leftovers) for Larry and I.  I did some online surfing, and found two recipes that looked appealing:  Risotto with Butternut Squash, Leeks, and Basil; and Pasta with Butternut Squash, Ground Lamb, and Kasseri Cheese.  From the title of the post, you can guess what we had for dinner.

I've made butternut squash risotto before, and it's one of those homey, warming meals.  But I have to say, it can be kind of...boring.  I'd never thought to pair basil with it, so this recipe caught my attention.  And let me tell you, the basil makes this SING.  It took a basic risotto and made it hit high notes on my taste buds.

Risotto with Butternut Squash, Leeks, and Basil
from Bon Appetit (adding the wine was my addition)
(I cut the recipe in half, and Larry and I had enough for dinner and tomorrow's lunch.  Served it for dinner with an arugula salad.)
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 c. 1/2 in. cubes peeled butternut squash (I used all called for, but halved everything else)
3 c 1/2 inch wide slices leeks
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
2 c arborio rice
1/2 c dry white wine (I actually used a cider wine that I had open); or can omit and add 1/2 c of vegetable broth  
54 oz. low-sodium vegetable broth
salt and pepper
1 c chopped basil
3/4 c freshly grated parmigiano cheese, plus more for serving

1.  Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large pan over medium-high heat.  Saute squash until it begins to soften and brown around the edges, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to a bowl, reserve.

2.  Bring broth to a simmer in a saucepan.  Keep at a bare simmer.

3.  Reduce heat to medium on the skillet the squash was cooked in, add remaining olive oil, leeks, and thyme.  Cook, stirring often, until tender but not brown, about five minutes.  Add rice and stir until coated with oil and edges barely appear translucent, about 1-2 minutes.  If using wine, add, stirring until most of liquid is absorbed.  If not, simply begin ladling in warm broth, 1/2 to 1 cup at a time.  Stir the risotto frequently, adding another ladle of broth as the rice absorbs most of the previous addition. 

4.  Taste after about half of the broth has been absorbed.  When the rice is approaching tenderness but still has a little too much bite, add the squash to the pan.  Keep adding broth until the rice is al dente (just barely firm, but not sticking to your teeth when you chew).  You may not need all of the broth.

5.  Remove risotto from the heat and stir in the cheese.  Taste, and add salt as desired.  (I only added about 1/4 tsp of salt to ours, because the broth I used was a little salty to begin with.)  Grind in some fresh black pepper.  Just before serving, stir in the chopped basil.  Serve with a sprinkling of parmigiano on top, if desired.  (Around here, it is definitely desired.)


Lee said...

Love the blog! It actually makes me think I should do a similar blog so that people can see the other side of cooking - the mess and failures. Last night I tried to make empanadas - my first attempt. The cornmeal wasn't right so the dough did not come out as dough: I was out before I even got started. Still, I continued, sure that the dough would work itself out. I made very dish I own dirty. I drank in between every little chore, and there was a lot to do, so I got a little drunk. And once the "filling" was cooked and done, the dough had not worked itself out. I won't even tell you the stupid things I tried to fry a couple of empanadas. They weren't inedible, but they also weren't what I wanted and hoped for. I think my sad cooking stories and a picture of the disaster in my kitchen (which I considered posting for my pic of the day on FB) would be a good contrast to the beauty of your blog (which acually makes me want to try cooking again). :)

Christine said...

Lee, I haven't been brave enough to tackle empanadas, so mazel tov to you for even trying it. :) When you come to Boston (or NY) let's make a pitcher of margaritas and try to make them together. :)