When we lived in Japan, Brad and I used to go grocery shopping nearly every day. We had a refrigerator the size of those tiny dorm room fridges so we couldn't fit too much in there. It didn't take long for us to realized that we needed to get used to walking to and from the grocery store on a daily basis. I really enjoyed having the freedom to decide what we would eat based solely on what I saw in the grocery store that afternoon. It forced me to think on my feet and helped me learn about new ingredients and cooking techniques. Plus, I was able to focus on seasonal produce and catch-of-the-day seafood. This time of year, hot pots would be nearly in season and kabocha squash and sweet potatoes were everywhere. Perhaps my favorite thing about our little Japanese market were the kitschy, artificial fall leaves on plastic branches that decorated the aisles.
It took me a while to realize that we couldn't operate on the same grocery shopping schedule here in the United States. With 2 kids and a husband who works long hours, I find that meal planning for the whole week and making just one shopping trip works best for us. However, we often end up with odds and ends in the cabinets and produce drawers: the last of a box of dry pasta, half an onion, a carton of chicken stock, and other bits and bobs sit around getting ignored. So, this week I challenged myself to cook our nightly dinners using only what we had in the pantry, freezer, and fridge that needed to be used up. This beautiful, vibrant risotto is one of my favorite ways to get creative with basic ingredients and helps use items that might otherwise end up in the trash.
This risotto is creamy, full of comforting flavors, and perfect for a simple weeknight dinner. We topped our risotto with poached eggs and a couple drops of white truffle oil but that is totally optional. This bowl of goodness can stand on its own two feet without any fancy flourishes. And the leftovers? Yeah. Almost better than the original. I like risotto that has been reheated in a hot skillet until crispy in places and topped with a fried egg and a drizzle of hot sauce. Rice and eggs...I might have a little bit of an addiction.
Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto
Makes 6-8 Servings
- 1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon olive oil
- course salt
- 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 a medium yellow onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1 cup arborio rice
- 4 cups chicken stock, warmed
- 1/3 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
- 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Arrange the butternut squash cubes in a single layer on a parchment lined, rimmed baking sheet. Toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden and tender.
- While the squash roasts, heat the remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil and the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and the garlic and stir, cooking until softened, about 3-4 minutes.
- Stir the rice into the onion mixture and cook, stirring often until the rice begins to take on a slight golden color.
- Increase the heat slightly and stir in the white wine, scraping the bottom of the skillet. Bring the wine to a steady simmer.
- When the rice has absorbed the liquid, begin adding the stock 1/2 cup at a time, stirring the liquid into the rice until almost completely absorbed before adding the next 1/2 cup. Continue until the rice is tender but not mushy.
- When the squash is done, mash it roughly with a potato masher or a large fork. Stir the squash into the skillet with the risotto and stir until combined. Add the pecorino, season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with the fresh parsley. Serve immediately.