Butternut Squash Risotto with Mushrooms

I know that a lot of folks are trying to eat vegetarian at least one night a week.  Here’s a vegan contribution from my kitchen to yours.  There aren’t many vegan dishes that come out of this kitchen.  I’m a big believer in an “all things in moderation and sometimes a splurge” approach to eating.  This nice thing about this dish is that it almost feels like a splurge.  Risotto always feels just a little decadent with its rich creaminess and this one is finished with truffle salt to put it over the top.  No meat, no cheese, but all kinds of good.

I spent a fair amount of time this evening trying to come up with a risotto that would use up the other half of the butternut squash from yesterday along with the vegetable broth I made yesterday, a bunch of lacinato kale and a bunch of baby bella mushrooms.  Absolutely I could have used all those things, but then I found a different use for the kale so you’ll see that tomorrow.  I settled for three out of four.  I made this as easy on myself as possible.  I cooked the squash in the microwave and just used the pulp instead of making a real puree.  I quartered the mushrooms instead of slicing them.  It was faster and gave the mushrooms a little more presence in the dish.  Half an onion and one clove of garlic, both diced, and a little olive oil.  That’s it.

A lot of folks are intimidated by risotto.  I certainly didn’t grown up eating it.  It’s not difficult.  It just takes a little love and care.  Generally speaking when you make risotto you make the creamy rice first and then starting adding the extras.   That means that you stay by the stove stirring and adding liquid a little at a time for 40-50 minutes.  It’s perfect for those nights when what you really need is a chance to be by yourself and drink a glass of wine.  Also perfect for those nights when everyone is gathered in the kitchen talking.  You can stir while you get caught up on the day.

This risotto is very mild and smooth.  Elegant is a good word for it.  The squash is a little sweet, but not too.  The mushrooms add a dark taste and meaty texture.  The fresh parsley is much more than a garnish here.  It adds a bright green punch to the flavor.  I just needed a little richness to round out the flavors.  Fortunately some friends brought me some truffle salt for my birthday.  It was the perfect finishing touch.  A little salty, a little pungent.  A little goes a long way.  And it’s wonderful.  With the truffle salt I didn’t need to add the usually parmesan for finishing.  Definitely worth a try if this is a new flavor for you.

I’m not looking to convert anyone to vegetarianism, or veganism, but since most of us are watching our pennies and our waistlines this is a yummy way to do both.

Good? Very good.
Easy? Yes, just time consuming.
Good for company? Absolutely.
Special shopping? The truffle salt came from a specialty food store. You can get it from Dean & Deluca or order from Amazon.com.

Butternut Squash Risotto with Mushrooms

Ingredients

Pulp from 1/2 butternut squash
1 t olive oil
4-5 oz baby bella mushrooms, quartered
3 C vegetable stock, warmed
1 T olive oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped fine
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 C arborio rice
1/3 C white wine
3 T chopped fresh parsley
1/8 t truffle salt

Directions

Place butternut squash half, free of seeds, cut side down in a microwaveable dish. Add enough water to cover the bottom of the dish about 1/4 inch. Microwave on high 4-5 minutes, or until squash is soft enough to be scooped out with a spoon. Set aside.
Heat 1 t olive oil in a skillet. Add the mushrooms and saute until they are tender and brown on all sides.
Heat vegetable stock in a small pot and keep hot.
Add olive oil to a small stock pot and heat until it shimmers. Add onion and garlic. Saute 1-2 minutes.
Add arborio rice and stir to coat. Add 1/3 C white wine and stir until the liquid is almost absorbed. Add warm stock to rice 1/2 C at a time. Stir constantly between each stock addition until the liquid is almost absorbed. Continue until the rice is nearly al dente.
Stir in squash pulp, mushrooms and 1/4 C of remaining stock. Cook until rice is al dente.
Remove from heat and stir in parsley. Stir in truffle salt.

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