If ever there were a dish that embodied a season, it is this Butternut Squash Risotto that smells, looks and tastes like fall. At The Sylvia Center, the onset of this season hit us like a wave. We saw the coming changes in the distance but continued to cook meals that highlighted the height of summer produce. When the wave finally crashed over us in the past week or so, we found ourselves grasping for the familiarity of summer before realizing it was time to accept what was upon us. This recipe is the finest celebration we could give to the last of our summer vegetables— tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, and chard, and the first of what we will be eating all fall and winter— hearty butternut squash.
This couldn’t be a more gratifying meal on a cool fall day. We made this risotto with a group of culinary students from Questar and each bite sunk us all deeper and deeper into a delighted trance. When you get to the point where you need to decide if your risotto is done cooking, look for a consistency that is “all’onda” or wavy, speaking not only to the change in seasons but to a perfect risotto that is soft and has a loose texture. If you’re successful, when you tilt the plate, the risotto ripples in waves.
Butternut Squash Risotto
3 tablespoon olive oil
6+ cups vegetable stock
2 medium leeks, sliced
2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup tomatoes, diced
1 small eggplant, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 small butternut squash, peeled and diced
4 leaves Swiss chard, chiffonade
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons fresh chives and basil, chopped
- Heat stock.
- In a pan sauté tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and squash until squash is tender.
- Meanwhile, heat olive oil over medium heat in large saucepan. Sweat leeks until tender.
- Add rice and sauté until grains are coated with oil. Add two ladles of stock and a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Continue to add the stock, a ladle at a time, stirring frequently. Allow stock to absorb into rice each time, before adding more.
- After cooking rice for 15 minutes, add sautéed vegetables. Continue to cook until rice is cooked through, but still al dente.
- Remove from heat and fold in swiss chard, butter, cheese, and herbs. Season with salt and pepper to taste.