Living in Los Angeles this past year, I did not get my fill of butternut squash. Winter squash makes a surprisingly brief appearance out here– You see it in November. November. Not nearly the season my Midwestern soul expects. I’ve been craving it. So when I saw some (five!) beautiful butternut squash at Whole Foods this past week, I grabbed one. (Well, two. The first I roasted & ate, alone and slightly delirious.) The second went into risotto.
This recipe is different from many butternut squash risottos, because it does not use sage. Instead, it uses a little prosciutto and dried thyme. The stock is important, though. When I don’t have homemade on hand, I use Better Than Bouillon base. Usually I use their vegetable-based products, often the “No Chicken” base (which is vegan), or their mushroom broth base (also vegan). You could use either in this recipe, or else a low-sodium canned or boxed stock that has been simmered down slightly to intensify its flavors. This makes 4 generous main course servings. Enjoy!
4 T. olive oil, divided
1 medium butternut squash
2/3 c. walnut halves or pieces
5-6 c. chicken or vegetable broth
½ tsp. dried thyme
3 T. + 1 tsp. butter, divided
1 oz. prosciutto, finely chopped
1/3 c. finely diced onion
½ c. white wine
1 large granny smith apple
2 oz. grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 375°F. Peel and seed butternut squash and cut into a ½”-dice. You should have a scant 3 cups. Toss squash with 3 T. olive oil in a 9×13” glass roasting pan. Spread squash out to a single layer and season generously with sea salt. Roast in the oven for 25 minutes. Carefully stir the squash and roast for another 15 minutes (40 minutes total). Squash should be roasted but only very slightly browned. Remove from the oven and set aside. (Squash may be made up to 6 hours ahead. Rewarm in oven before continuing.) Turn oven temperature down to 350°F.
Toast walnuts in the oven until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Cool slightly and chop medium fine. (Nuts may be made up to a day ahead.)
Place broth in a medium saucepan and stir in thyme. Bring liquid to a boil and turn off the heat. Cover and let broth steep for at least 10 minutes. Grate apple. You should have about 3/4 cup.
In another medium-sized, heavy-bottomed saucepan set over medium-high heat, sauté prosciutto in 1 tsp. butter until darkened and slightly crispy. Scoop proscuitto out and set aside. Bring broth back to a low simmer.
In the same saucepan used to crisp the prosciutto, melt 1 T. olive oil and 1 T. butter. Add onion and sauté gently over medium heat until translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in Arborio rice. Stir well, making sure that every grain of rice is coated with butter & oil. Set timer for 18 minutes. Add white wine. Cook, stirring, until wine evaporates.
Add ½ cup of broth. Stir rice constantly until broth has been absorbed. Add another ½ cup of broth, and stir constantly again. (It is this stirring that makes risotto creamy.) Continue adding broth by the ½-cupfuls, stirring constantly between each addition. At the 12 minute mark, stir in the grated apple.
When 18 minutes are up, taste the rice. It should be soft, creamy, but still have a little bite. If it is not quite done (tastes chalky), continue adding broth, ¼ cup at a time, and stir. Keep checking rice. It should be done within 4 minutes. Turn down heat to low. Stir in crisped prosciutto, 2 T. butter and Parmesan cheese. Gently fold in roasted butternut squash. Taste for seasoning. Serve warm.