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Winter Sunshine

If you are like me, at the end of farmers market, you stock up on winter squash.  It is mid-winter, and I still have five, yes, five beautiful butternut squash from Tonnemakers Farm that I purchased at the Moscow Farmers Market last October.  Now, I am combing through my cookbooks looking for recipes I can adapt to the other ingredients I have in my cupboards.  This sunny risotto caught my eye and, ultimately, delighted my palette.

Ingredients: butternut squash, yellow onion, garlic, Arborio rice, saffron, olive oil, dry white wine, parmesan cheese, sea salt.

Risotto is a quintessential slow food.  Call it cooking meditation or stationary exercise, one of the benefits of making risotto is the incredible arm workout you will get from slowly stirring this dish for over an hour.

Butternut Risotto ingredients:

  1. 5 cups water, vegetable stock or chicken stock (if you use water, be prepared to season with salt before serving)

  2. 1 generous pinch saffron threads (optional)

  3. 2 tablespoons olive oil

  4. 1 medium onion (local, if you have a winter store), chopped

  5. 2 cloves local garlic, crushed

  6. 1 pound arborio rice

  7. 1 medium local butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch cubes

  8. 3/4 cup dry white wine

  9. 1 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated

  10. salt and ground black pepper

  11. pickled red bell pepper, artichoke hearts and Greek or green olives (optional)

Butternut squash, smooth skinned and meaty, are quite easy to halve, peel and chop into cubes.

Bring water or stock to a boil and reduce to a low simmer.  Ladle a little stock into a small bowl.  Add the saffron threads and leave to infuse.

Ingredients prepped and close at hand.  The brilliant orange of the butternut squash and saffron threads promise a brightly colored dish.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan.  Add the onion and garlic (mine is from Affinity Farm) and cook gently until softened (5 minutes or so).  Add the rice and pumpkin and cook for a few minutes until the rice is transparent.

Pour in the wine and stir until it is absorbed.  Add one cup of stock and the infused saffron and liquid.  Stir constantly until all the liquid is absorbed.  Add the stock a ladleful at a time, stirring constantly until the liquid is absorbed.  Continue adding and stirring in a ladleful of stock at a time until all the liquid is absorbed.   Switch stirring hands as needed.  After 40-45 minutes, the rice should be golden yellow, creamy and al dente and the squash thoroughly cooked.

Stir in the Parmesan cheese, cover the pan and leave to stand for 5 minutes.  To finish, season to taste with a little salt and pepper.  Spoon into bowls.  Top with marinated peppers, a slice of artichoke heart and a couple of Greek or green olives.  Enjoy!


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