Vanilla Butternut Squash Risotto

Posted on February 11, 2009. Filed under: side dish |

Jon’s favorite food is Risotto. And one of my favorites is butternut squash. So what do you get when you combine the 2? A little piece of heaven. Butternut Squash Risotto, with a vanilla twist. Giada De Laurentiis is the inspiration for this recipe. I saw her recipe for this, and then tailored it to mine and Jon’s preferences.

Serves 6 side dishes
4 cups vegetable broth
1 large vanilla bean
3 cups small cubed butternut squash cut in 1/2-inch squares, about 12 ounces
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino romano
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp fat free half and half

In a medium saucepan, warm the broth over medium-high heat. Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds and add them and the bean to the broth. When the broth comes to a simmer, reduce the heat to low. Add the butternut squash to the simmering broth and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked squash to a side dish. Turn the heat on the broth down to very low and cover to keep warm.

Meanwhile, in a large, heavy saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the rice and stir to coat with the butter. Add the wine and simmer until the wine has almost completely evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the simmering broth and stir until almost completely absorbed, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking the rice, adding the broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing each addition of broth to absorb before adding the next, until the rice is tender but still firm to the bite and the mixture is creamy, about 20 minutes total. Discard the vanilla bean. Turn off the heat under the risotto (and the remaining broth, if any). Gently stir in the butternut squash, Romano cheese, the remaining tablespoon of butter, half and half and salt. Transfer the risotto to a serving bowl and sprinkle with parsley. Serve immediately.

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