Butternut Squash Risotto for Rosh Hashanah
Rosh Hashanah (The Jewish New Year) begins tonight. On this holiday, symbolic foods are eaten in hopes for a sweet, healthy and prosperous year ahead. Apples dipped in honey illustrate the sweet year we hope for while other less-known symbols like pomegranate signify the abundance of merit one hopes for in the coming year. Gourds and squash can also be seen as symbolic Rosh Hashanah foods and since they’re such a fall ingredient, it’s not such a long shot to incorporate them into Rosh Hashanah menus.
I saw this recipe on a very delicious food blog called Sophistimom. She made risotto look so easy (despite knowing that it’s not) and melded delicious flavors that were perfect for my Rosh Hashanah meal. That, and I happened to have ALL of these ingredients in my house already so I knew I had to make it.
The first step was to roast my butternut squash. I found this cute little butternut squash at Green City Market along with the shallot I’ll be using in this recipe as well (more on Green City market at a later date!)
After I chopped my butternut squash, I drizzled it with olive oil, salt and pepper and some fresh sage leaves and put in the oven to roast for 30-40 minutes. The directions said 30 minutes, I accidentally let mine go for 40 and they came out perfectly fork tender and beautiful so not to worry.
While your butternut squash is roasting, you can get the risotto started. First, chop (and finely chop) your small shallot.
Now, melt margarine and olive oil and saute your chopped shallot. Then add your rice.
Make sure you’re using arborio rice that is made for cooking risotto. This rice has a creamier, more absorbent consistency that is practically designed for this Italian dish.
Once your rice is sort of translucent, crumble in the saffron threads to give it a yellow color (I completely forgot to do this and waited until after I added my liquid – big mistake!)
Now here’s where we get a little tedious, but bear with me, it’s not as bad as you think. We’re going to start our risotto process by adding 1/2 cup of white wine to our rice. Turn your heat up a bit and let it absorb. Once that is absorbed, we’re going to add 1/2 cup warmed chicken stock.
We’re going to keep adding 1/2 C. of chicken stock until we’ve reached the desired consistency. I would definitely recommend tasting after about 3 or 4 additions of chicken stock. The rice is cooking in the hot liquid and will eventually become creamy and chewy. That’s what you want. But please note that looks are deceiving. It might look done but you’ve got to taste it to know for sure.
As soon as you declare your rice risotto, add the butternut squash and some fresh chopped sage.
Give it a quick stir and voila, you’ve got butternut squash risotto. I’ve always heard terrifying stories about making risotto but this recipe made it quite simple! Just remember, it’s rice cooked in periodic slow additions of white wine and chicken stock. Now you have a side dish for the Rosh Hashanah meal (or any fall holiday really).
This recipe is adapted from Sophistimom’s recipe. The original had Parmesan cheese and used butter. I tried to create an all meat version so that I could serve it at a kosher dinner (can’t mix chicken stock with cheese). I also used more butternut squash.
1 small butternut squash, peeled and chopped
fresh sage leaves
salt and pepper
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. unsalted margarine
1 sm. shallot, minced
1 pinch of saffron threads
1 C. arborio rice
1/2 C. dry white wine
5-6 C. homemade chicken stock (or 3 C. canned + 3 C. water)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Peel the butternut squash. Slice off ends, turn on one end and slice in half. Cut into 1/2 inch pieces. Place on a cookie sheet and toss with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, a pinch of salt, a pinch of pepper, and a few sage leaves. Roast for 30 minutes until tender.
In a small pot, simmer the chicken stock (or canned broth with water).
In a large skillet, melt margarine in 2 tablespoons of olive oil over low heat. Add shallots, and saute. Add rice, and stir until the rice grains begin to turn translucent. Crumble in saffron threads.
Increase the heat to medium low. Pour in wine, and stir until liquid is absorbed.
Ladle in 1/2 cup of stock. Stir frequently until liquid is absorbed. Add another 1/2 cup of stock, and stir frequently until the liquid is absorbed again. Repeat this process until rice is desired texture. Most people prefer the rice to be a bit chewy in the center, but not crunchy. This should take about twenty minutes.
Once the rice is smooth, and the desired texture, add in a teaspoon finely chopped fresh sage leaves, and the roasted butternut squash.
Spoon into bowls and garnish with sage leaves and any extra butternut squash.