A few weeks back, I had dinner with my friend Pam at her house. Pam loves to cook as much as me and we always seem to make amazing meals together. Pam also loves to garden. Her vegetable garden is so abundant that it could literally feed an army with all the vegetables it produces. It’s quite a sight to be seen if you are into that kind of thing. Well, I am and I’m also the happy recipient of a plethora of fresh food. She loaded me up with tomatoes, butternut squash, 3 different varieties of cucumbers and beets. I was so lucky. Basically vegetable heaven! 🙂
Butternut squash is a totally versatile fruit. (Yes it’s a fruit as it’s a vessel to hold seeds) but most of us consider it a vegetable as we can roast it, boil it, saute it, grill it, puree it, mash and smash it. It’s great with butter and salt, used in casseroles, bread, muffins, soups, and even pies. In this weeks case, I used it in this Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto.
If you have been following me for a while, you know that I am a risotto fanatic! It’s a go-to dish for me because you can add just about anything in the refrigerator to the mix for a delicious gluten-free dinner. Arborio rice actually contains high “rice gluten” that gives it the creamy, rich consistency that we all love but the rice gluten is not the gluten that bothers some peoples systems so it’s a win-win!
I first had Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto in Italy and fell in love. It had been years since I ate it and decided it was time to give it a whirl at home. I just made my standard risotto recipe and finished it with roasted squash and crispy pancetta. Risotto is a patience dish but once you get the knack of it, it will be a go-to dish for you as well! Give it a try. It’s like autumn in a bowl!
On a quick note, we had a must do Colorado experience this week! My friend from Australia was in town and we had another opportunity to go sailing on Lake Dillon. I say “must do” because there is nothing like seeing the mountains from the water in Summit County. It’s kinda an indescribable experience. The beauty is breathtaking especially when the skies are blue and the fall colors are on fire. We had super warm weather and perfect winds. So all in all, we hit it just right and had an amazing time. Lucky us! 🙂 Enjoy the photos!
Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto
- 2 pounds butternut squash, skin and seeds removed and cut into 1 inch cubes about 4 cups or so
- 4 ounces finely diced pancetta **see note
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup finely diced shallots
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 cup arborio rice
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 4 cups chicken stock, warmed in a saucepan
- 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese plus additional for serving
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Carefully remove the skin of the squash using a vegetable peeler or a small paring knife. Slice the squash in half, remove the seeds and chop into one-inch pieces. This is a little tedious so take your time. Place the chopped squash on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a couple of pinches of salt and pepper. Toss together with your hands to combine. Place in oven and cook for 20-25 minutes or until the squash is fork tender. Remove from oven and set aside.
- In the meantime, heat up a 12-inch skillet over medium-low temperature. Add the pancetta and cook until the meat is browned. Remove the pancetta and place on a paper towel to drain. Do not remove the rendered fat.
- Add the butter to the rendered fat. Add the shallots and garlic. Saute for about 3 minutes and add the rice. Cook the rice until there is a prominent "white dot" in the center. You will want to stir constantly for about 1 minute for this to happen.
- Add the bay leaf, thyme, salt, and pepper. Stir in the wine and cook until it evaporates, scraping any bits off the bottom of the pan.
- Add about 1/2- 3/4 cup of the chicken stock to the rice and cook until it evaporates. Stirring constantly. Keep adding the chicken stock until you are on the last half cup or so of stock. You need to make sure all stock is evaporated before you add the next batch. This is important.
- When you are on the last bit of stock, add the squash, pancetta, parmesan cheese and parsley. Adjust seasoning is necessary. Cook until the remaining liquid is absorbed.
- Serve hot with additional cheese.