1.03.2015

Butternut squash risotto

A couple of years ago, I started making risotto for dinner from time to time. Chef Ramsay always makes his contestants cook it on Hell's Kitchen, so that was part of the inspiration. The idea of buying a pre-made mix or something from the frozen-food section of the supermarket never appealed to me. The only thing holding me back from making it myself was that our pantry was missing one key ingredient...Arborio rice. Now don't get me wrong, there is no shortage of rice in this home. We have white, brown, wild, sushi, basmati...but no Arborio. Big problem. Being a problem solver, I got up one day and decided to just go buy the stuff and figure it out. How hard could it be, right? It's just rice, but different. After doing some research using several websites, YouTube videos, a cooking app and the ever-faithful cookbook, I was ready for battle. As expected, I emerged from battle victoriously. My toughest critic was pleased with the results and I was the hero. And as a hero does, he enters into battle perpetually in the name of saving a hungry damsel. To be sure that I knew what I was doing and that it wasn't just beginner's luck, I made a basic risotto once more. The results were identical, another success. Over time, I experimented with adding different ingredients to the risotto, such as: mushrooms, peas, asparagus, garlic scapes and shrimp.

Fast forward to the present. With a butternut squash sitting in the kitchen and no forecast of rain in the near future, making sopaipillas was out of the question. After a recent trip to Trader Joe's, my supply of Arborio rice had been replenished and I instantly knew what needed to be done. I planned to use the entire butternut squash, but I quickly realized that I had more than I needed. I ended up using the long neck-like section of the squash, cut up into small cubes, in the preparation of the risotto. Then I halved and seeded the round part of the butternut prior to being roasted. Once roasted, the squash halves made the perfect vessels for the finished risotto. The best part of all is that the entire thing was edible, except for the skin on the bowls. I was not even trying to make a vegetarian dish, but I kinda did and it was good. No...it was great.