This picture doesn’t begin to do justice to this recipe for Butternut squash risotto with rosemary, walnuts, and blue cheese from Food Blogga. In the 10 months or so since I started Superspark, my biggest problem has been the photos. We have a great camera and my food photography skills have certainly improved over time, but my ability to patiently style the food, set up the shot, and snap away is still a struggle. I’m admiringly envious of the patience and self-control that must be required to style the beautiful shots I consistently find on some of my favorite food blogs. Am I the only one who is in awe of those talented food bloggers who actually take the time to style their food? In this case, in my haste to start digging into this wonderful combination of two of my favorite things (butternut squash and risotto), I left the camera on the wrong setting. Bah! Foiled again by my stomach…
I can only hope that you still get a sense of how delicious this was- the sweet, nutty goodness of butternut squash, the creamy chew of risotto, the tangy saltiness of the blue cheese, and the crunch of the walnuts were the perfect end to an autumn day. Unexpectedly, though, what really made the dish for me was the hint of sage. Although the original recipe called for rosemary, we have somehow managed to kill every rosemary plant we’ve tried to grow while our little sage planting keeps on chugging away. Given that butternut squash and sage are something of a classic combination themselves, I decided to try the substitution and was more than pleased with the results. Adding an herb (be it rosemary or sage) gave it that one additional layer of taste and interest that pushed it over the top and into my “keeper” recipe pile.
Butternut Squash Risotto with Rosemary, Walnuts, and Blue Cheese (serves 4)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon butter
1 shallot, diced
1 cup butternut squash, roasted
4-5 cups low-sodium vegetable broth (or as much as needed)
1 cup Arborio rice
¼ cup half ‘n half or milk
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1/8 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1-2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese (we may have been a little more liberal with it)
1/8 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees; place walnuts on a baking sheet in oven for about 10 minutes, until slightly toasted and fragrant.
2. Increase oven heat to 400 degrees. Slice squash in half, remove seeds, and rub with a little olive oil; roast face-side down for 40-45 minutes or until tender when pierced with a fork. Once the squash is cooked, scoop out the flesh, and mash it by hand. It will be added to the cooked risotto later. Meanwhile, heat broth in a saucepan over medium heat, then lower to a simmer.
3. For the risotto: In a large metal skillet, saute the shallots in olive oil and butter. Add the Arborio rice; toast for about 1 minute. Cook the risotto at a slow simmer, adding heated broth ½ cupful at a time. Stir occasionally, making sure the risotto absorbs the liquid before adding more; just be careful not to let the bottom burn. As it continues to absorb the liquid, it will become tender and creamy. Also, season with some salt as you go along.
4. I use 4-5 cups of broth for this recipe, but use more or less as needed. It usually takes about 20 minutes for the risotto to become completely cooked; but taste it. It should be wonderfully creamy and thick; it’s best al dente, which means it should still retain some firmness when you chew it. At this point, add the cooked squash, half and half or milk, ½ the rosemary, and some salt and pepper; stir well.
5. Remove from heat; stir in Parmesan cheese now, as it will melt more slowly. Add some salt and pepper as needed. Most cookbooks suggest adding 1-2 Tbsp. butter at this point, but it’s optional (and a lot fewer calories without it). Plate your risotto, topping it with crumbled blue cheese, toasted walnuts, and the rest of the chopped fresh rosemary. Eat right away to enjoy its velvety goodness.