Reviewing October's Cooking Light.
I have a subscription to Cooking Light magazine, and October's issue came with a must have recipe: Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto with Sugared Walnuts. Risotto is, without exaggeration, my favorite comfort food. Butternut squash is a close second. The combination of the two compelled me to attempt this recipe, despite the fact that risotto-making is often a time-consuming activity, and time is the commodity that I have least. Still, on a lovely October Wednesday, I settled down to craft this meal for our little family. Thorn cannot have wheat or dairy, and so this recipe (if you disregard the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese) is free of both. I had hoped he'd enjoy it, too. He didn't, but Fox and I did. It was very easy to prepare, and if you've got the time, I highly recommend it. There is nothing like biting into the smooth and creamy risotto, except doing so and finding a crunchy, warm and sugary walnut!
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
4 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth (Vegetarians: feel free to substitute vegetable broth)
1/2 cup water
1 ounce pancetta, finely chopped (about 1/4 cup) (Vegetarians: omit)
1 finely chopped onion
1 1/4 cups uncooked Arborio rice
1/2 cup chardonnay
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh lemon thyme or 1 1/2 tablespoons thyme plus 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind (I had to do the latter as lemon thyme was nowhere to be found)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup (1 ounce) shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (I omitted for Thorn, but I recommend including it)
1. Preheat oven to 400°
2. Arrange nuts in a single layer on a jelly-roll pan. Bake at 400° 5 minutes or until toasted, stirring twice. Place nuts in a bowl. Drizzle butter over warm nuts (they make a delicious sizzling sound at this point); sprinkle with sugar and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Toss well to coat.
3. Combine squash and 1 tablespoon oil, tossing to coat. Arrange squash in a single layer on jelly-roll pan. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until squash is just tender. Remove from pan; stir in garlic. Set aside.
4. Bring broth and 1/2 cup water to a simmer in a saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat.
5. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add pancetta to saucepan; cook 5 minutes or until browned, stirring frequently. Add onion; cook 3 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add rice; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add wine; cook 1 minute or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add broth mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (about 20 minutes total -- Hah! Took me 30 at least). Stir in squash, thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Top with cheese and nuts. Yield: 8 servings (serving size: about 2/3 cup risotto, 1 1/2 teaspoons cheese, and 1 tablespoon nuts).