Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Butternut Squash Risotto


Each morning I transfer from the New Jersey trains to the Long Island railroad. While I've described my evenin transfer as an Olympic event of toddler-jumping and granny-dodging, my morning commute is much more relaxed. In fact, I have thirty minutes between my morning trains. There are a few options open to me for filling this time and I've explored them all.

In my first few weeks of commuting I stayed in Penn stationand waited for my LIRR train. I brought books to read and stood around in the main corridor reading. One morning I decided to sit in the LIRR waiting area and read and that was the last morning I stayed in Penn Station. A quick note for all, the waiting area is where the really chatty and crazy people like to hang out. I'm not big on conversation that early in the morning.

Option two is to go outside of Penn Station and get some fresh air. This idea was spurred on in mid-July, when the temps inside of the station were reaching two hundred degrees. While getting outside for some air is a great idea, this is also he same idea that the smokers have. The fresh air I desired would not be found there.

Option three has become my favorite. It's a game. How far can I walk and still make it back before my train? I'm becoming increasingly familiar with the streets and avenues around Penn Station. My favorite Starbucks is at 39th and 8th, it has a second floor seating area!  I can make it to the Jamba Juice at 23rd and 7th with time to spare. It's a great game and good exercise too!  You might even see me strolling by Good Morning America on the days that I head north!

Butternut Squash Risotto
Adapted from All-New Complete Cooking Light Cookbook

I have been looking for a good butternut squash risotto  to help ring in the new Fall season.  Unfortunately, this didn't quite hit the mark with me.  I'm blaming the fact that I was out of parmesan cheese and didn't realize it!  If you have parmesan cheese, reduce salt to 1/2 tsp and dump in about 2 ounces of cheese before serving and let me know how you like it!  (If you want to make this a totally vegetarean meal, just replace the chicken stock with vegetable stock!)

2 cups water
2 cups chicken stock
Olive oil
1 small white onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 cups butternut squash, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

Combine 1 1/2 cups water with chicken stock in a small pot.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat then lower heat to low.  Keep stock warm.

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add olive oil and onions.  Cook for 3-4 minutes then add garlic.  Cook for another 1-2 minutes until onions are soft and garlic is fragrant.  Add salt, pepper, squash and remaining 1/2 cup water.  Cover with a lid and allow to simmer for 8-10 minutes, until the squash is softened.

Add rice and 1/2 cup stock mixture.  Stir the contents of the Dutch oven until the stock is absorbed.  Add stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring continuously.  Continue adding stock after each portion has been absorbed.  It will take about 20 minutes to add all of the stock mixture.  Around this point, start taste testing the rice.  You want a little bite, don't let it go mushy!

Once the rice is to the texture that you want, remove from the heat and stir in the butter and parsley.  Portion out and enjoy!
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