So this is fun! I'm having a great time testing recipes suitable for vegetarian Thanksgiving entrées for the 2009 collection of Thanksgiving vegetable recipes (FYI, link updated in 2010). With this one, it took great restraint to not gobble (tee hee) it up all by myself.
The recipe starts with an idea borrowed from Cook's Illustrated, using the skins and seeds and all the 'gunk' inside a butternut squash to make a vegetarian broth, so very thrifty! The broth is gently flavored with a lovely orange tinge.
From there, the squash is pan-roasted but you could also roast the squash cubes in the oven if preferred. I also added mushrooms for bulk and texture contrast, perfect. I also added a few currants for texture and color contrast, they were great but I realized later, dried cranberries would have been the right 'seasonal' choice, snips of dried apricot a whimsical one. I chose the lovely nutty farro (what is farro?) as the 'rice' component of the risotto but the traditional choice, of course, would be rice, either arborio or carnaroli.
The recipe looks long but is very straight-forward once you get started.
RECIPE for FARRO RISOTTO with BUTTERNUT SQUASH & MUSHROOMS
Time to table: 1 hour
Makes 6 cups
1/4 cup currants (or dried cranberries or snips of dried apricot)
2 tablespoons sherry
3 cups water
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 bay leaf
Squash 'gunk' - the seeds & stringy gunk from inside the butternut squash, also the skins
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into half-inch cubes (How to Cut, Peel & Cube a Butternut Squash)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces brown mushrooms, washed, trimmed & sliced thick
1 cup semi-pearled farro
Additional salt & pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground sage
DRIED FRUIT In a small bowl, soak the dried fruit and sherry.
BROTH Place water, celery, bay leaf and peppercorns in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. As they're prepped, drop the squash skins and inner 'gunk' into the water. Let simmer until ready needed for the risotto. Strain out the ‘gunk'.
TO PREP THE SQUASH Wash the squash well. Trim thin slices off the stem and blossom ends of the squash. Slice off the squash's 'neck'. NECK Stand the neck upright, then slice off the tough exterior peel with a knife and drop into the broth. Turn the neck on its side, cut into rounds about a half inch thick. Stack two or three rounds on the cutting board. Using your fingers to hold the rounds together as you cut, cut first one direction and the other to form half-inch cubes. BULB Cut the bulb in half. Scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff (drop into the broth water). Place the bulb round-side up, cut into strips a half inch wide, then cut the strips into half-inch cubes. Set aside. (For more detail and photo illustrations, see How to Cut, Peel & Cube a Butternut Squash.)
SQUASH Heat the olive oil on MEDIUM in a large deep skillet until shimmery. Add the squash and stir to coat with fat. Let cook, turning occasionally, until the squash is cooked through and the edges beginning to brown. About halfway through, add the salt and pepper. Set aside.
MUSHROOMS In the same skillet, heat the olive oil until shimmery. Add the mushrooms and stir to coat with fat, then the onions and stir to coat. Cook until the mushrooms begin to soften and the onions are just beginning to turn gold.
RISOTTO (Whew! It's finally time to make the risotto!) Add the farro and stir to coat with fat, let cook a minute or two, stirring occasionally. A quarter cup at a time, add the hot broth, letting each addition be fully absorbed before adding another. Continue this practice, a quarter cup at a time, until the farro is fully cooked but still a little nutty and chewy. Stir in the cooked squash and sage, adjust seasonings if needed. Stir in the currants and their liquid, let the liquid cook down a bit and the currants heat through.
TO PREP AHEAD
OPTION 1 Make the broth, cook the squash and cook the mushrooms the day before. Then reheat the broth and cook the risotto just before serving.
OPTION 2 Make the entire dish the day before except the currants. Then reheat the risotto, adding more liquid if needed to get the right consistency (you might want to make more broth, to have enough). Add the currants and serve.
No farro? Substitute barley or wheatberries or a risotto rice such as Arborio or carnaroli.
~ Butternut Mac 'n' Cheese ~
~ Winter Squash Polenta ~
~ Mashed Butternut Squash & Sweet Potatoes with Citrus ~
~ more squash recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture
~ Squash Puff ~
my family's tradition
~ more winter squash recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade