Thanks so much for the enthusiastic response to my back to school post! It was fun to watch all of you light up with enthusiasm about the student life, just as I have this week.
I’m in the middle of deciding my curriculum, and it looks like the choice is between an accelerated study track that will be rigorous, but expedite my post-bacc, and a slower course that will mean waiting for a few months before I dive into the serious work. I’m leaning toward the former, so I suspect that my stretch of leisurely dinners is about to draw to a close. Before it does, I have a recipe for vegan butternut squash risotto to share, and I must say, it’s divine!
I love risotto. It’s warm, filling, delicious, and even though it’s easy to prepare, it looks and tastes “fancy.” It’s often my go-to for entertaining—provided there are enough people around to entertain themselves for a while while I stir—or for holidays. The hitch, of course, is the time and attention it takes to prepare, which means that it’s not always an easy choice for busy nights. But the good news is that the process and the watchfulness are relatively easy work, in spite of being hands-on, and it’s really tough to mess up risotto.
Last week, I decided to combine two of my favorite things—rice and butternut squash—and create my first ever butternut squash risotto. Naturally, the pairing of two such stellar main ingredients was a success. I loved this dish, and I hope you will, too!
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup white or yellow onion, chopped
- 2 shallots, finely chopped
- 1½ lbs butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into ½-inch chunks
- Salt and black pepper
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 5 cups low sodium vegetable broth
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage (substitute 1 teaspoon rubbed sage)
- Heat the oil over medium heat In a large sauté pan. Add the onion, shallot, and butternut squash. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring now and then, until the squash is getting tender. It should take about 10 minutes. While you cook the squash, warm the broth in a medium sized pot over a low flame (you want it to be below simmering for the entire time you cook the risotto).
- Add rice to the sauté pan; stir to incorporate it with the other ingredients. Add the white wine. Cook, stirring often, until the wine has evaporated (about 2 minutes).
- Reduce heat to medium-low and add ½ cup hot broth mixture. Cook, stirring, until almost all liquid is absorbed. Continue to add the broth in half cups, waiting for the broth to be mostly absorbed before you add more and stirring the whole time. When the rice is creamy and totally tender, the risotto is ready. You'll probably use nearly all of the broth, but you may have a half cup (or so) leftover. The process should take about 35 minutes.
- When the rice is ready, stir in the nutritional yeast and sage, then add salt and pepper to taste (about ½ teaspoon salt should be right). Serve immediately.
Served up with simple salads, this was a perfect winter dinner. My boyfriend noted that cold leftovers were even better than the original bowl. I didn’t have a chance to test his theory, but I can believe it!
Cook’s note: one of my favorite things to do with leftover risotto is to pan fry little patties of it in a touch of olive oil. If you make this recipe and want to switch it up with the leftovers, try it!
As school fires up, I’m going to feel gratitude for every night on which I have an hour or more to cook. For now, you can look forward to a few more of last week’s highlights, including homemade pizza (dough and all) and a mystery recipe I can’t wait to share. Stay tuned!