Saturday, February 12, 2011

Risotto (Roasting Squash)

Last night's menu was brown rice risotto made with roasted squash and roasted garlic. We had a fresh salad of mixed tomatoes and sugar snap peas on the side.  My family loved it.  Eli liked the puree of squash in the risotto, but didn't care for the cubes of roasted squash I added as a garnish. Everyone ate until they couldn't eat no more.

There are two kinds of people in this world.  Those that cook risotto and those that don't.  And it has nothing to do with cooking skill.  It's all about patience.  If you have the patience of a saint--and you don't mind standing in one place for 30-50 minutes staring at a pan--then you can make risotto.  (And brown rice risotto takes about twice to three times as long to cook as the normal Arborio rice risotto.)

If you are not the world's most patient person, then I recommend you go to The Cafe in north Ames and ORDER the risotto off the menu.  But when you eat it, you should appreciate the fact that someone who does have patience stood there loving that risotto for a long, long time so that you could have a nice meal.

So basically I'm not adding the recipe here because if you are the kind of person who cooks risotto, you know to just add roasted and pureed squash/garlic mixture with your last liquid addition.  If you're not the kind of person who cooks risotto, then there's a 99.99% chance you never will.  But if you are really dying for the recipe, send me a note and I'll get it to you.

I will let you know, though, how to roast butternut squash.  Once roasted, it's great to just eat as cubes, or to puree and eat, or to puree and add to soups, stews, or risotto.  Throw some roasted squash in with some wheat pasta and a little olive oil for a nice lunch.  You can use the roasted squash in a lot of different ways.  I love it and my family loves it. Squash is the trifecta of good food: healthy, cheap and yummy. (Brown rice also fits into that category, making the brown rice and squash risotto a sext-fecta!)

Roasted Butternut Squash
Cut your butternut squash in half and scoop out the seeds. You can peel your squash with a knife or vegetable peeler--just make sure you peel down to the dark orange flesh--and then cube it up. Or you can just slice your butternut squash in half or rounds or sticks and roast with the peel.  If you do that, then just scoop the cooked flesh out of peel before using.  Peel off works best for cubes with texture, peel on works best for soft/pureed squash.

Either way, rub or toss the squash with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.  Put on a cookie sheet and cook at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes to use as chunks, or for 45 minutes to soften enough to puree.  

Easy as pie. (Actually, pie is way more difficult.  But that's a different post.)

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