Squash and Ricotta Risotto

I never had risotto growing up. Maybe it was considered too fancy, or maybe Arborio short-grain rice was too hard to find (nowadays you can get it in the supermarket). In fact, I think the first time I had it was in grad school, when I tried, with middling success, to make it myself. It’s not hard, but it is labor intensive, as you have to watch the pot and stir frequently for maybe 40 minutes. At its most basic, you simply sauté some Arborio rice in some butter, add some wine until it evaporates, gradually stir in hot stock a bit at a time, and finally stir in some grated cheese. It gets interesting when you start to add things—like squash. You can cut the squash into small cubes and cook it with the rice, or you can cook it first and add it later. That’s what we’ll do here. It takes a bit longer, because you have to wait for the squash to cook, but then again, you don’t have to worry about peeling it, which can be a bit of a hassle. The ricotta gives it a nice flare, as does the fresh sage (which you should have in your garden if you live in a warm climate). Remember, the stock should be near boiling, so if you’re using a can or carton, heat up a cup at a time in the microwave before adding it in.

What you need

  • Butternut squash

  • Butter

  • Olive oil

  • Onion

  • Arborio (short grain) rice

  • White wine

  • Chicken or veggie stock (roughly 32 oz or 1 qt)

  • Grated cheese

  • Ricotta

  • Fresh sage

  • Fresh parsley

squash risotto

How you make it

  • Cut the squash in half and scoop our seeds. Bake in medium oven (~375 deg) until soft (~45 min). Scoop out flesh and discard the rind.
  • Heat 2-3 tbsp butter and 1-2 tbsp olive oil in pot over medium heat.
  • Sauté one small chopped onion until translucent (3-4 min).
  • Add a cup of rice and cook, stirring, until golden (3-4 min).
  • Add ~⅔ cup white wine and stir till it evaporates.
  • Add stock, about a half cup at a time, stirring until absorbed. You might not need it all. After ~20 minutes, the rice should start to soften.
  • Add squash and stir.
  • Add last of the stock, if needed, to finish cooking rice.
  • Stir in a half cup of grated cheese and a bit of the chopped sage.
  • Spoon into bowl, and make a depression in the middle with a spoon. Fill the depression with a few spoons of ricotta.
  • Sprinkle with chopped sage and parsley.

Buon appetito!

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