New things can be intimidating. And it seems that some of scariest veggies to me in the past have been squash—spaghetti, acorn, and now butternut. But it’s totally worth it to get over your fears and get in the kitchen. And you’re going to need peeled, chopped and diced squash for the recipe I’m about to shared with you: Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto with Feta Cheese.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 1 smallish butternut squash
- 1 onion, diced (I used a yellow one)
- 1 tsp garlic, minced
- 4-6 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups Arborio rice
- package reduced-fat feta cheese
- cinnam0n, nutmeg, and ginger
- coarse salt
- olive oil
I got an idea to make this when I saw a recipe on Jason’s blog for a risotto using butternut squash, blue cheese and bacon. I didn’t really have any of those things, so I decided to improvise with what I had on hand.
Whenever I see butternut squash, I’m reminded of a character from Veggie Tales. (Come on, I can’t be the only person forced to watch these in Sunday School and youth group?? Right?!? RIGHT??)
It has an interesting shape and, to be frank, it looks like a mutated schlong. Not gonna lie. However, you’ll need to get that imagery out of your head for the first step to making this sassy squash beg for mercy. It may seem like it’s going to be hard to do, but I promise, it’s not. (that’s what she said.)
First, get out that big-ass knife we used on the spaghetti squash. You’ll want to cut off about a half inch to an inch from the top and bottom.
After you’ve circumcised your butternut, you’re ready to strip—the squash, that is. It’s not that it’s difficult, per se, just a pain in the ass. Take a vegetable peeler and scrape off the outer skin until you get to the tender orange flesh.
After the squash is standing in all its naked glory, hack it into two pieces—you’ll have a trunk and a stump.
Using a large spoon, scrape the innards out of the bulbous end. It’s a lot like cleaning out a pumpkin to carve. (Thanks to Jason, I now know that you can roast these seeds, too!)
Toss your cubes with some olive oil and sprinkle each of ground cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Sprinkle in a pinch of coarse salt for good measure.
Spread the squash cubes out on to a cooking sheet lined with either parchment paper or aluminum foil that’s been spritzed with some olive oil. (Oh, and you should have pre-heated your oven about, oh, 400 degrees? I never really have set times or temps.) Pop the squash into the oven for 30 minutes or so, stirring halfway through. (Basically, cook until they’re tender.)
While your squash is cooking, get to work on the rest of the risotto. Heat 4-6 cups of low-sodium broth in a large pot. (I say 4-6 because I started with 4 and ended up needing more…so I used the whole large container I’d purchased, totaling 6 cups. I ran out of broth before my rice was creamy enough.) You’ll want to bring it to a boil then back down to a low-medium heat so that it’s still really hot but not boiling.
While the broth is boiling, heat approximately a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet. Sauté a diced onion till it’s almost translucent, along with a teaspoon of minced garlic. Add in 2 cups of Arborio rice, stirred around to toast.
Now comes the so-called hard part. Risotto isn’t actually difficult, it just takes some time. Pour enough of the hot broth into your skillet—enough to cover the rice. Stir frequently.
Once the rice has absorbed almost all of the liquid, add in more broth. Continue doing this until all the liquid is gone (or when the rice has taken on the creamy texture that you want.) Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Mix in the roasted squash (which you should have taken out of the oven by now…you do know how to multitask, right?), saving a few cubes to use as a garnish. Hopefully you’ll remember to stir them…I didn’t. Oopsie. Blackened squash eats the same, though!
And there you have it!
Honestly, it rocked my socks off. Warm, creamy, tangy…it invaded my mouth and made me beg for more. It was like, “RissotOH, my god, I’m in love.” I think this was one of my very favorite things I have ever made—and I think that’s saying a lot! I have also found some very creative ways to use the leftovers, but more on that later.
What’s your favorite thing you’ve ever made? Have you ever attempted risotto?