This recipe was adapted from a fellow blogger – A Mingling of Tastes. Julie from Chicago has been writing her blog since 2006 – talk about cooking experience! It is a great vegetarian risotto recipe to keep on hand. Risotto is such a delicious dish in general because of the butter and cheese added in at the end but the vegetables are a great touch! I have to admit – I have kind have of a love for rice in general; I got that trait from my mom – someone I think could eat rice everyday of her life. There is nothing wrong with that if they are recipes like this one!
A basic risotto is fairly simple to make; it just takes a patient person and a risotto spoon. Okay, you really don’t NEED a risotto spoon, any wooden spoon will do, but I like kitchen gadgets so of course I have one! Risotto takes a lot of gentle stirring so that the rice does not turn to mush, which is why this spoon is cool. Some rice grains get stirred and some go through that cool little hole. Anyway, back to the patience part… when making risotto you cannot walk away from the stove. That is why, especially in this recipe, it is important to have all of your ingredients prepped before you start cooking the rice. Set aside the time to make this – I’m begging you!
If you want to start off easy and just make a simple risotto, go right ahead. Once you get one dinner under your belt, you won’t be so scared to make it over and over again, mixing in different ingredients each time! Here is a great article from The New York Times that gives you a few pointers and a good basic recipe – Risotto.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and drizzle with 2 1/2 tbsp of olive oil. On the baking sheet, toss the butternut squash with salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary. Roast until tender and lightly browned, about 20-25 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat 1/2 tbsp olive oil and 1/2 tbsp butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook until their water nearly evaporates, about 6 minutes. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking until tender, about 3 more minutes. Set aside.
Heat the vegetable broth (it does not have to boil) in a medium saucepan and keep warm over low heat.
In a large saucepan, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil and 1 tbsp of butter over medium-low heat. Add the shallots and cook until soft but not browned. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Add the rice and stir constantly for 2-3 minutes until all the grains are slick and slightly opaque. Add the wine and simmer until almost completely absorbed.
Add two ladles full of broth to the risotto and bring to a simmer. Season with a bit of salt and pepper. Keep the risotto at a steady simmer, stirring continuously until the broth has evaporated almost completely. Add one ladle full of broth, stir until it is nearly evaporated, then add another ladle full. Continue simmering and stirring, adding broth as necessary, for about 25-30 minutes or until the rice is creamy and cooked through, but still firm to the bite. When the risotto is on its last ladle full of broth, add the spinach (this will wilt down considerably). Stir until spinach is just wilted. Add the roasted squash and mushrooms. Add 3 1/2 tbsp of butter and Parmesan cheese; stir to combine. Check the seasoning and add more salt and pepper to taste. Serves 6 big-eaters as a main-course.