Autumn means cooking with a different set of ingredients than I typically work with the rest of the year and although I do on occasion use frozen butternut and other seasonal squash other times of the year it is so easy to work with fresh there’s no reason not to enjoy it. Roasting it brings a depth of flavor and softens it up nicely to combine with the risotto’s creamy texture.
As for the risotto, it is truly a labor of love. Unlike steamed or boiled rice dishes where you can prep them and leave them alone, risotto needs to be watched over carefully throughout the process and worked to the fullest to coax the starches out of the rice to create that natural creaminess that is associated with the dish. Stock is preferred to water and as typical, I make mine fresh from the leftover parts of all the veggies.
Seasoning this can be approached many different ways since the squash is such a flexible food to work with profile wise. Not sure exactly how I would categorize the spice combination other than as I rifled through the cupboard this is what caught my nose. Overall the dish makes a good side with a protein, or could be enjoyed on its own. And, one of the things I love about risotto is it is both good warm or cold the next day or if you are so inclined, you can make cakes or balls out of it and lightly fry then in oil for a special treat.
Arborio (short grain) rice
Cracked black pepper
Dice the shallot
In a large skillet over low heat with a bit of oil being to sweat the shallots out
Preheat oven to 450 or use the broiler
Bring your stock or water for the rice to a boil in a large stock pot
Peel and cube the butternut squash, toss with olive oil to lightly coat and place on a baking sheet
Roast the squash till it begins to brown turning at least once, do not blacken / burn it
While the squash roasts, put the rice in the skillet with the now soft shallots and then ladle in about half a cup or so of liquid until the rice is just covered.
Season the rice with Coriander, Turmeric, Cumin, ginger, dried sage and black pepper
Work the rice around in the liquid slowly until all the liquid is absorbed. Do not allow the rice to stick to the bottom of the skillet
Once all the liquid is absorbed ladle more liquid in until the rice is just covered again and continue to repeat until the rice is tender.
Reseason through the process as necessary.
Once the rice is soft remove from the heat and fold in the roasted squash until completely combined
A few ways to dress this up would be to use dried cranberries and toasted pine nuts as well as to combine in cheese like pecorino romano and /or parmesiano regiano in small amounts.