Mad scientist giggle…
This was one of those dinners that happened because a) my husband was working late, giving me a lot of time to cook, b) I had a late lunch and therefore didn’t mind eating late, and c) I neglected to get groceries last weekend. Oops. So I needed to work with what I had on hand.
It was incredibly good, but it did take a little bit of time for everything to come together. This is not a “light” dish, but everything in moderation, right? If you don’t have dried mushrooms, you could slice up some fresh mushrooms and cook them down in a little bit of olive oil or butter instead. Or leave them out altogether! If you have a basic risotto recipe that works for you, by all means use it, adding the extra ingredients at the end. If you really want to go over the top, chop a few pieces of bacon into small pieces and fry until crisp. Use the fat to cook the onions instead of (or in addition to) the butter, and add the bacon back in at the end.
Butternut Squash Risotto with Spinach and Mushrooms
(makes about 6 servings)
1 butternut squash
1/2 cup dried wild mushrooms
6 Tbsp butter, divided
1 medium onion, chopped very finely
1 1/2 cups of Arborio rice
1/2 cup of dry white wine
7 cups of chicken broth
1 box of frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese (if you use the kind from the shaker jar, I will hunt you down flick you in the forehead)
A small bunch of fresh sage leaves
salt and pepper, to taste
Peel and cut the squash into cubes, and roast. If you don’t know how to do this, here is a good basic recipe to follow. It is exactly how I do it. When done, set aside.
Rehydrate the dried mushrooms with boiling water. Set aside.
Heat the chicken broth in a saucepan until just below a simmer.
In another large saucepan, melt 3 Tbsp of the butter over medium-high heat. Saute the onion until it is translucent. Don’t let it brown.
Add the rice to the pan, and stir to coat. Cook, stirring frequently until the grains of rice are starting to turn translucent.
Add the wine and stir until the liquid is nearly completely absorbed.
Add the broth one ladle at a time, stirring frequently. When the broth is nearly absorbed, add more. Continue adding broth and stirring until the rice is nearly but not completely cooked (you will need to taste it).
Add the cooked squash, rehydrated mushrooms (chopped into small pieces if they are large), and spinach to the pan. Stir, and continue adding broth until the rice is cooked the way you like it. The risotto should have a creamy consistency.
Remove from the heat, add the parmesan cheese and some freshly cracked black pepper, stir, cover, and set aside.
In a small skillet, melt the remaining butter over medium-high heat. When it starts to take on a golden brown color, add the chopped sage leaves and cook for a couple of minutes. You want the sage to be crisped, but not burned.
Stir the sage and browned butter into the risotto, and serve! (Alternatively, you can spoon the browned butter & sage over the top of the individual servings)