Squash Risotto, Risotto alla Zucca

Squash Risotto

Squash Risotto

Risotto made with zucca gialla, winter squash, is one of the most popular north Italian first courses during the winter months. Little wonder, because good winter squash has a delightful tangy sweetness to it, while the risotto has a libidinously creamy texture. Perfect on a cold, damp, gray winter day!

You’ll need:

  • Half a Butternut Squash, peeled and diced
  • 1 1/2 cups (300 g) Carnaroli, Arborio, or other short-grained rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine, warmed
  • 1 quart (1 liter) stock, either meat or vegetable (bouillon will be fine)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup minced parsley
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano, or more, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Squash doesn’t sauté well, so you will need to cook it separately and then add it to the rice. Begin by putting the diced squash in a pot, adding broth or bouillon to cover, seasoning with a little pepper, and heat the pot over a medium flame. Heat the remaining bouillon or stock in another pot.

In the meantime, chop the onion and sauté over a medium flame it in the olive oil in a broad fairly deep pot. When the onion is translucent and light gold, add the rice and continue to sauté for another 5-7 minutes, stirring constantly lest the rice stick and burn. The grains of rice will become translucent.

While the rice is toasting, heat the wine in your microwave for about 30 seconds. Add it to the rice, and cook, stirring, until it has evaporated. Now add the simmering squash, the pieces of which will by this time be falling apart.

Vegetable Stock, Simmering

Vegetable Stock, Simmering

Stir gently, lest the rice stick to the bottom of the pot and burn, and add more liquid as the rice absorbs what’s in the pot. Let the rice absorb most of the liquid (you’re not making soup), but don’t wait until it looks dry, because the grains will begin to flake if you do.

Continue adding liquid until the rice reaches the al dente stage of doneness — chewy but firm. If you prefer a drier risotto, make the last ladle of liquid a little smaller. If you instead prefer a more liquid risotto (what’s called all’onda, like a wave, in Italian) be a little more abundant with the final ladle.

Stir a couple of tablespoons of unsalted butter into the risotto if you want a creamier texture, and then add the grated cheese, followed by minced parsley. Turn off the burner, cover the risotto, and let it sit for two minutes, during which time everything will come together and meld.

A wine? White, and I’d be tempted by a Lugana here.

Yield: 4 servings squash risotto.

How to make risotto, illustrated.

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Categories: Vegetarian Risotti

Author:Cosa Bolle in Pentola

Italy boasts an astonishing number of varietals, denominations, and wines, and tremendous changes are sweeping the land. New wines are being created, new DOCs are being introduced, and the existing denominations are overhauling their regulations both to reflect the practices adopted by their member wineries and to favor improvements in quality. Even the most staid and stolid region can flower seemingly overnight, emerging with exciting new wines and wineries that require rewriting the enological maps and rethinking one's positions. And, of course, recipes too, because cuisine and wine are closely intertwined and it's difficult to imagine one without the other.

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2 Comments on “Squash Risotto, Risotto alla Zucca”

  1. December 17, 2012 at 7:06 pm #

    I make this all the time, skipping the parsley and adding a touch of balsamic at the end. i really enjoy your blog 🙂

    • December 20, 2012 at 10:08 am #

      The nice thing about recipes is that we can adjust them… Lots of people don’t seem to realize this for some reason. I’m so glad you like what I’m doing!

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