Oh, man! I have been dying to try this recipe out. I got Giada's new cookbook from the library, called Giada's Kitchen, and (no surprise) it is my new favorite. This is the first recipe that jumped out at me and screamed "TRY ME!". Since I am a lover of all things Butternut Squash related, I had to obey the cookbook. Besides, Giada has never steered me wrong. I was intrigued by the addition of vanilla to the liquid stock in this recipe. I can not imagine how it is going to taste in a savory application. The vanilla is like a little mystery. Well since I am super-excited, I am going to skip the majority of my commentary and just get to the recipe.
I have made a couple of minor changes based on what I have on hand. First, I don't have four cups of vegetable broth in my pantry. I do have a boatload of chicken stock, though. The chicken stock will negate the 'vegetarian' factor to this dish, but we are not vegetarians anyway...so really not an issue for us. Also, I don't have a whole vanilla bean. I looked online to see how much vanilla extract accounts for one vanilla bean, and I will just substitute that quantity. Although, there were several different answers; I am just going to err on the side of caution and only use one teaspoon of vanilla extract for one vanilla bean. Yeah, that sounds about right. I don't want it too vanilla-y! Wish me luck...I am really, really, really, really excited about dinner tonight.
Giada's Butternut Squash and Vanilla Risotto
4 cups vegetable broth (OR substitute chicken stock)
1 large vanilla bean (OR substitute 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract)
3 cups peeled cubed (1-inch wide) butternut squash, about 12 ounces
2 tablespoons butter, plus 1 tablespoon
3/4 cups finely chopped onion (from 1 onion)
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice or medium-grain white rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
In a medium saucepan, warm the broth over medium-high heat. Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds and add them, and the bean, to the broth. When the broth comes to a simmer reduce the heat to low. Add the butternut squash to the simmering broth and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon remove the butternut squash to a side dish. Turn the heat on the broth down to very low and cover to keep warm.
Meanwhile, in a large, heavy saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until tender but not brown, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat with the butter. Add the wine and simmer until the wine has almost completely evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the simmering broth and stir until almost completely absorbed, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking the rice, adding the broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing each addition to of the broth to absorb before adding the next, until the rice is tender but still firm to the bite and the mixture is creamy, about 20 minutes total. Discard the vanilla bean. Turn off the heat. Gently stir in the butternut squash, Parmesan, the remaining tablespoon of butter, and salt. Transfer the risotto to a serving bowl and sprinkle with chives. Serve immediately.
This dish was everything I had hoped for and dreamed about! It was beautiful to look at, and absolutely decadent to eat. It was fan-freakin'-tastic! Delicious! Seriously...it was awesome. I loved it. My son seemed to like it, too. He ate quite a bit, so I was a happy mommy. The husband does not really like squash all that much (he likes squash about as much as I like brussel sprouts), but he agreed that the risotto itself was fabulous (and he ate the squash, too). I informed him that I have a new and profound love for this dish and I will make it again. He will have to deal with it. I figure it is a good compromise, since I eat brussel sprouts for his benefit. Anyway, this is a keeper. I have a second Butternut Squash risotto recipe that I will be trying soon. The second recipe is from Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa) and it has bacon in it. Bacon! Again, since it is butternut squash I am deeply excited to try it. Also, I want to be Ina when I grow up...but that is a story for another post.