Butternut Squash Saffron Risotto

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Oh butternut. My old friend...Hello. How I've missed you!

Before I launch into a Lionel Richie song out of pure nostalgia, I better just cut to the chase about this delicious winter squash. Here is one of my favorite fall recipes. It's great for two -- a romantic chilly-weather dinner, anyone? It's perfect for a crowd -- bulk cooking for book club or dinner group? And it's an easy meal to share -- need to drop food off for a new mom or a sick friend? This is your ticket.

I've made this Ina Garten recipe at least 20 times. This time, I bagged the pancetta Ina calls for and it was just as delicious. All it needs alongside it is a simple salad and a great glass of wine. This...I can handle. Below, I've listed my version, thanks to Ina for the inspiration!

Butternut Squash Saffron Risotto

modified from Ina Garten's recipe

1 large butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
2 tablespoons quality olive oil
2-3 tablespoons pastured butter
4-5 cups chicken or vegetable stock, warmed in a saucepan
2 large shallots, minced
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine (I realized I didn't have any so used 1/2 cup organic unfiltered apple juice and it was just as good)
1 teaspoon saffron threads
1 cup freshly grated pecorino romano cheese
salt and pepper, to taste

Toss squash pieces in olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast on a lined cookie sheet on 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until browned and fork tender. Meanwhile, saute shallots in butter in a heavy saucepan or Dutch oven. Add the rice and mix well to coat with butter. Add the wine (or apple juice in my case!) and simmer for a few minutes. Add in about half the chicken stock, saffron, salt, and pepper. Simmer and stir constantly, until most liquid is absorbed. Then add more stock. Do this until the mix gets dry, then add in until the rice is thoroughly cooked. When it's done, toss in the squash and the cheese and serve.