We have an abundance of squash lying around our house right now. At least one is being saved for our annual Halloween soup (more on that later), but the others are up for grabs – especially my favorites, the delicatas.
Cook’s Illustrated ran a recipe a couple of years back that we finally tried last winter, and it’s become a favorite – a butternut squash risotto with sage and onions. Delicatas aren’t quite like butternut, but they’re sweet and easy to peel, and work very well in this recipe. Here’s how it worked out on this particular occasion:
First, my wonderful spouse peeled and cut up the squash into 1/2 inch dice for me, reserving the stringy innards and seeds. I heated some olive oil in one of my favorite pans (a lime green Le Creuset saucier) and added the squash in a single layer, left it alone for a few minutes so it browned nicely, then stirred it up and let it cook until just tender. I scooped it into a bowl and set it aside. I then added the squash innards to the pan (it needed a bit more oil) and sauteed them briefly before transferring them to a saucepan and adding a couple cups of chicken broth and a cup of water. The squash-infused broth began simmering away as I started the rice.
At some point during this process it started to rain outside – the kind of rain that makes you wonder about grabbing a life jacket and a lot of towels. I alternated cooking and staring out the window at the deluge. After a while, the main storm passed (the gutters still fountaining water past the kitchen window) and the sun came out, creating a rainbow to the east and amazing light throughout the kitchen – I wanted to go gawk at the rainbow, but of course I was stirring risotto and couldn’t move. Sigh.
I heated up some more olive oil in the pan and was intending to add some chopped onion and garlic to it, but my brain stopped functioning (distracted by weather) and I added the cup of arborio rice to the pan instead. Whoops, too soon! I dumped the onion in on top of the rice and just fried it all up together, good enough. Then a half a cup or so of white wine, stirred in and cooked down, then I dumped in half the cooked squash cubes and started adding the broth through a strainer, a little at a time. It would probably have been easier to strain all the broth first, then just ladle it into the risotto, but why take the easy path?
Once I’d used up all the broth and the rice was just cooked, I added a bit of butter, some parmesan cheese, a tablespoon of chopped sage from the front garden, and the rest of the squash. We served it up with chicken thighs baked with salt and sage, and a Bogle pinot noir. Lovely for a wet fall evening.