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Autumnal Delights & Butternut Squash Risotto

Autumn has officially arrived. The days seem just a little bit shorter, as they remain darker longer, and the air has taken a turn to a crisp nip. Heirloom pumpkins and cheerful mums have made way into our gardens and onto our front doorsteps. We are finding comfort in warm sweaters, seasonal soups, and apple crisps. In our household, we have switched out the 'everyday' milk glass that was used so often during the summertime and moved onto our cheerful pumpkin earthenware. This really seems to set the mood, and certainly spreads a little cheer.



As we tend to do, we visited the market this past weekend and loaded up on seasonal offerings for the week, such as butternut squash, pumpkin, pomegranate, and apple. A friend and I had compared notes recently, and we were brainstorming about various ways to integrate sage into our fall dishes. Top of mind, I envisioned a butternut squash paired with pasta and parmesan. I was certainly craving something hearty and warm. Much to my surprise, however, we still had a leftover box of risotto rice from summer cooking! (We had presented a 'birthday party in a box' for my daughter's ninth birthday, inviting friends and family members to zoom with us over a 'pretend cooking show'. All the ingredients needed to prepare this dish were in a box that had been delivered to their doors, and everyone followed along as my daughter prepared it. It was a fun way to 'be altogether' even while physically being miles apart.)



Once you know the basics of preparing risotto, the variations are absolutely limitless. Most of the ingredients are shelf-stable, as well, and so it is a wonderful dish to whip up on a whim. The bonus is that you can keep most of the items stocked in your pantry all fall and winter long. A few of our favorite variations to make are a truffled mushroom risotto, a tomato risotto, and now that it is fall, a butternut squash risotto. For special occasions, we like to keep a can of Urbani truffles on hand. Truffled mushrooms can be shaved onto the top for the ultimate gourmet experience.



Although risotto is hearty enough to serve as the main course, it can certainly be used as a side dish. We additionally found that the butternut squash in spaghetti form was a big hit with the children. We topped this with, you guessed it, Parmesan and sage.



A generous pour of white wine, specifically an Alsacean Riesling, or a Pinot Noir, would pair quite nicely with the butternut squash version.


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Risotto


Serves 4--6 people


Ingredients:


1 1/2 C Risotto Rice

32 oz. of Chicken Stock

2 Tbsp Chopped Onions (dried, a staple pantry item, or fresh)

2 C of Butter

1 1/4 C of Parmesan

Salt & Pepper


Variations of Risotto:


Mushroom

Pesto

Tomato

Butternut Squash

Saffron

Crab

Spinach

Peas

*Truffled


Ways to enhance the Risotto:


Fresh Onions

A Squeeze of Lemon

Parmesan Shavings

Black Peppercorn

Truffle Shavings

Sage


Utensils:

 

A Wooden Spoon 

A Stockpot (to warm the broth)

A Stainless Steel Pan (or a thick bottom pot to cook the risotto)

4-6 Plates or Bowls


Butternut Squash Risotto:


1. Prepare the butternut squash.


- Wash the squash, peel the skin, and cut it into small cubes (otherwise known as brunoise).

- Reserve some larger cubes of squash for garnishing at the end.

- There is a great tutorial here on how to cut a squash without losing your fingertips, at the same time! https://www.gimmesomeoven.com/how-to-peel-seed-and-cut-butternut-squash/

2. Roast the squash.


- Heat a