With fall upon us, we turn our attention to heartier dishes, vegetables, and flavors that remind us of home and comfort. Butternut Squash is one of the vegetables that seem to relate to this time of year. Its sweetness and richness upon roasting put us in that “zone” we think of as satisfying and just like Mama used to make. Risotto and Butternut Squash are one of those matches made in heaven, and Risotto Al Zucca is a signature dish of the Northern regions of Italy most notably Lombardia.
With ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH RISOTTO, we take this great authentic dish to another level by roasting the squash and enhancing the dish with a couple of different ingredients. Satisfying the “itch” for that great flavor combo, sweet and savory, this dish fills that need perfectly. Our savory flavors of the squash, sage, broth, onion, and parmigiano are matched with the sweetness of the roasted version of the squash and the addition of a finish or garnish of Balsamic Glaze, Candied Walnuts, and Ricotta.
BOOM! That, my friends, is an explosive combination which entertains your palate in a way I cannot clearly describe. This is a flavor load not to be believed.
This is a dish that served in a smaller amount as a first course sets the stage for a great fall menu of roasted meats perhaps. Regardless of how you follow this course – this starter will definitely inform the guests at your Italian table that they are in for a very special meal indeed!
However, if you prefer to make this dish the main event, it is hearty enough to stand up and out as a comforting entrée that ushers in the memories of fall meals past and the season of bountiful ingredients and flavors to come.
This dish will simply bring you boundless return!
…and now, a drum roll please…
ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH RISOTTO
(with Candied Walnuts and Ricotta!!)
You can make your Candied Walnuts days ahead if you like and also roast the squash ahead of time.
Serves: 4 as entrée or 6 as a first course
Prep/Cook: about an hour
This recipe makes about a cup although you will not use them all in this recipe. Save the rest for salads – yum!
In a pan, place 1 cup of walnut halves or pieces, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 Tbsp. Butter, and a dash of Cayenne Pepper. (2 dashes for more spice!)
Heat and let the sugar melt in, while stirring constantly – takes just a couple of minutes.
When melted and well covered, pour the walnuts onto parchment paper or wax paper and quickly spread the mixture out with a spatula. This hardens almost instantly. When cool, break into small pieces and store in a covered container.
Roasted Butternut Squash
Toss 3 cups cubed Butternut Squash with some Olive Oil, salt and pepper to taste.
Spread this out on a sheet pan and bake/roast at 400 degrees for about 15- 20 minutes until just fork tender, turning with a spoon about 1/2 way through. You can do this ahead also.
1 1/2 Cups Arborio Rice
2 Tbsp. Butter
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 chopped sweet onion
6 –7 Cups WARM Chicken Broth (can substitute vegetable broth)- you might not use it all
2 Tbsp. Chopped Sage
1/3 Cup Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Asiago Cheese
2 Tbsp. Butter
The roasted butternut squash from instructions above
Several Candied Walnuts – instructions above
Chopped Fresh Sage for garnish
4 heaping Tablespoons of Whole Milk Ricotta, beaten a little with a spoon to make fluffy
Balsamic Glaze or reduction of Balsamic Vinegar
Heat the butter and olive oil in a wide shallow pan (best for risotto). Add the chopped onion and cook at medium – medium high for 5 minutes.
Then add the rice – Cook another 5 minutes tossing to coat in the butter and oil.
Begin to add the warm broth with a large ladle – one ladle at a time, letting the rice absorb each addition before adding the next. This process can take about 30 minutes or more.
Add the chopped sage during this process.
You know you are finished when the rice is tender to the bite and creamy.
When rice is finished cooking, turn off the heat. Add the grated cheese and the additional butter. Stir in.
Add the roasted squash and toss gently.
Beat the ricotta a little with the back of a spoon to make it fluffy. Add several dollops of this to the risotto or 1 to each individual serving, letting each guest stir it in.
Add the candied walnuts.
Garnish with additional fresh sage and drizzle with a little Balsamic Glaze.
This ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH RISOTTO is so flavorful and rich, you will make it your go-to fall dish! This one is special!
PARLA COME MANGI!
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LINDA’S ITALIAN TABLE