Food Detective: At-Home Risotto

People on cooking shows will tell you that cooking with Arborio rice at home is easy. And it is…if you’ve got the time to stand around a pot and stir, stir, stir, until your clothes stick to you and your arm can’t take anymore.

That’s why I make my own risotto on lazy Sundays, when life allows me to chop, roast, and yes, stir to my hungry stomach’s content. In honor of the end of a painful (semi) bread-free week, I thought I’d share with you one of my favorite Italian-inspired recipes, spun from a love of both carbs and gourds: butternut squash risotto. Just remember: recipes using Arborio rice are as flexible as they are delicious, so have fun with whatever farm-fresh vegetables you have on hand—and add or subtract whatever you please.

Slow Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto

Serves: 2-3

1 package pre-cut butternut squash

2-3 tablespoons light brown sugar

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 large shallot, minced

5 garlic cloves, minced

Sprinkle of red pepper flakes

Half a (16 oz.)package Arborio Rice

1/2 cup dry sherry

1 (32 oz.) package chicken broth

1/3 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese

Dash of cream to taste

Salt to taste

Directions for Butternut Squash:

Preheat oven to 375 F. Cut squash into 1-in. pieces, toss with brown sugar and olive oil until fully coated, and arrange on large baking sheet. Bake until tender, about 40 to 50 minutes.

Directions for Risotto:

Heat butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and shallot, along with the red pepper flakes. Sautee for about 1 minute, or until translucent. Pour in the rice and stir for about 1 minute. Add the sherry, stirring until the liquid has almost completely evaporated. Add broth in small batches, making sure the liquid is almost completely evaporated before each new addition; stir constantly, until rice is slightly al dente, about 25-30 minutes. Add squash and mix well. Add cream and grated cheese and serve immediately.