Friday, October 28, 2011

Butternut Squash and Mushroom Risotto

As the air becomes colder and Halloween creeps closer, my thoughts turn to earthy fall foods. Squash, in particular, is foremost on my mind. Thoughts of delicious roast acorn squash and delectable butternut squash soup make my mouth water. Pumpkin pie smothered in whipped cream sounds like a realistic dinner option (okay, most things smothered in whipped cream sound pretty good to me but pie is especially appealing). Carving pumpkins certainly crosses my mind also, but since I don't usually eat my carved pumpkins this does not hold quite the same appeal.

Butternut squash was not always so high on my most-sought-after fall foods list. Its rich flavor and texture were despicable to my childhood palate and it wasn't until high school that I really started loving it. The turning point? While babysitting my neighbor during freshman year of high school, I was left butternut squash ravioli with sweet brown butter to heat up in the microwave for dinner. My young charge ate about three raviolis before deciding that she was ready for dessert, and I felt bad letting so much pasta go to waste. I tried half a ravioli, then the other half, and then finished the bowl. How could I have avoided this delicious food for so long?

Imagine my dismay when I realized that my small dorm kitchenette did not have an oven. Preparing squash without roasting it at all was something that I had never done before, and hadn't really considered before this predicament. Fresh Grocer also did not seem to have any delicious ready-made butternut squash ravioli. However, I couldn't let that stop me from eating one of my favorite fall foods. A risotto recipe from held the cure to my squash cravings in a preparation that was totally oven-free. Although a bit skeptical about whether or not this would work, I decided to ignore my misgivings and try the recipe with some slight modifications. The results, I'm happy to report, were deliciously squashy and pleased even my previously-doubtful tastebuds.


4 cloves garlic, minced
1 small white onion, diced
1.5 cups mushrooms (whatever kind you like- I just used sliced white button mushrooms)
1.5 cups butternut squash, diced (pumpkin can also be used if you prefer)
1.5 cups Arborio rice
4-5 cups chicken stock
Small bunch of fresh parsley, minced
Grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
Olive oil


1. Put about 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1/8 stick butter into a very large sauce-pan/similar large, not too deep pan
2. Add garlic and onions and stir gently for several minutes
3. Add rice and stir until completely coated in oil, about 1 minute
4. Add butternut squash, mushrooms, and 1 cup of chicken stock*
5. Stir frequently until chicken stock is totally absorbed, then continue adding one cup at a time and stirring frequently until the rice is tender (25-35 minutes)
6. When rice is done, add parsley as well as salt, pepper and Parmesan to taste
6. Serve and enjoy!

*keeping the chicken stock warm will help the rice absorb it more quickly

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