Week 3’s CSA brought us an acorn squash, and though I’ve never made anything with one before, the idea of a risotto just seemed right. And so it was.
I haven’t made a risotto in an age. Most days, if I want some form of rice with cheese, I’m reaching for a box of Rice-a-Roni. Let’s face it, risotto takes TIME and a lot of watching. And, as the parent of two small children, it’s often hard to be able to stay in the kitchen for that long without someone needing *something* from me. During the work-week, it’s impossible, so I never would have attempted this for anything other than a weekend. But, it worked. Oh my, was I happy with the results.
The sweet flavor of the squash was subtle and unassuming, and the cheese was in small enough quantity to lend a little more stickiness to the rice without giving it too much weight. I cooked this in my Le Creuset round dutch oven; the enamel cast iron makes for easy clean-up, and the size of the pot gave me room to spare. When DH plugged this into his calorie tracker, the entire batch came out to about 1800 calories – meaning that 4 meal-servings would be about 450 calories each, and 6 side-servings would be about 300 calories each. Not bad at all!
Fair warning: the majority of the prep time is lost in trying to peel the dang squash. Also, if you’re not sure what to do with the seeds, I suggest that you separate them from the strings, then toss them in a small bowl with 1 Tb olive oil and 1/4 tsp salt. Then, roast them in a single layer on the tray in your toaster oven (or on a cookie sheet in your full-sized oven) at 300F for about 35-40 mins. YUM.
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Serves: 4 if using as a main dish; 6-8 if serving as a side dish
1 acorn squash, peeled and cubed (~1/4-1/3″)
1 yellow onion, minced
14-1/2oz can low sodium chicken broth (1/2cup reserved)
4 Tb butter (1 Tb reserved)
1/2 cup white wine
2 cups water
1/4 cup grated parmesan
Make it Happen
1. Over medium heat, add 3 Tb butter to a large pot. Let the butter melt, then add the onion and stir to coat.
2. Cook the onion until softened, about 5 minutes.
3. Add 1/2 cup reserved broth to the pot and the squash, stir to combine and then bring to a simmer. Cover and reduce heat to low; leave covered for about 10 minutes, so the squash can cook and soften.
4. When you cover the pot, pour the remaining broth and the water into a saucepan. Heat on medium heat.
5. Once the 10 minutes is up, remove the cover and add the rice to the pot. Stir to combine. Let this sit for 30-60 seconds (just enough to heat the rice), then add the wine and stir to combine.
6. Add 1/2 cup of the heated broth/water mixture from the saucepan to the pot every few minutes, increasing the heat on the pot to medium-low or medium, to bring it back to a very gentle simmer. (I found that a ladle-ful for us is about 1/2 cup, so it made it easy for transfers.)
7. Stir the mixture in the pot frequently, to make sure that A) the rice isn’t sticking to the bottom of the pot, and B) the liquid is cooking off properly.
8. Keep the rice gently simmering in this fashion, adding 1/2 cup of the broth/water mixture every few minutes and cooking that off, for about 20-25 minutes. Continue to stir frequently throughout cooking.
9. When the rice is firm but not crunchy, then it’s ready to be removed from the heat. Add the 1 Tb of reserved butter to the rice, stirring well to combine.
10. Next, add the grated parmesan to the pot, stirring to combine just prior to serving.