We've been getting a butternut squash each week in our CSA box for the last number of weeks. I am being very creative in the places that I store them in the pantry. Thankfully, they keep for awhile.
With some friends coming over for dinner recently, I saw an opportunity to use up the largest of the herd. I would make a butternut squash risotto. I looked online to see if there were any interesting variations. When I found this recipe (which I adapted below), I was reminded of the small container of saffron that was given to me over the holidays also sitting in the pantry.
Now, saffron is not absolutely essential to the recipe. It is the most expensive spice in the world since it must be hand harvested. But the good news is that a little goes a long way. On Amazon you can find some small amounts of saffron for less than $20 and you will get 3 - 4 uses out of it.
But the saffron elevates the typical butternut squash risotto to another level. The saffron imparts a subtle flavor but it also gives the risotto an exotic shade of light yellow.
A drizzle of truffle oil over the bowls just prior to serving gives the dish a heady aroma.
Saffron Risotto with Butternut Squash
- 1 large butternut squash (2 pounds)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3/4 stick of butter
- 1/2 cup minced shallots
- 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 6 cups of broth, preferably homemade
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
- 1 teaspoon saffron threads
- salt and pepper
- truffle oil (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400
- Peel, seed and cube the butternut squash
- Place on a cookie sheet covered with foil, toss with oil, salt, and pepper and roast for 25 - 30 minutes, until tender (can be done the day before)
- In a heavy-bottomed pot, melt the butter and saute the shallots on medium low for 10 minutes until shallots are translucent but not browned
- Add the rice and stir to coat the grains with butter
- Add the white wine and cook for a few minutes, stirring often
- Add a cup or two of heated stock, 1 teaspoon of salt, and a some fresh black pepper
- Continue adding stock as the previous batch gets absorbed, stirring often
- Add the saffron and squash about halfway through along with the next batch of stock
- Continue until rice is cooked but still al dente - 20 - 30 minutes
- Stir in cheese, turn off the heat and let stand for 10 minutes
- Optional: Serve in bowls and drizzle with truffle oil