A few years ago, Jack and I spent Thanksgiving alone, just the two of us. We had always traveled throughout the holiday season, exhaustingly flying around to visit both families. But this one particular year we decided enough was enough and we made the bold move to stay home.
To buck tradition even further, there was no turkey, no trimmings… instead we made this butternut squash risotto and Jack’s signature seared scallops.
“Thanksgiving Risotto” might not have caught on as an annual tradition, but it was delicious and made for a memorable night. That and the half bottle of wine that I spilled on the wall. I’m not exactly sure how it happened, but I knocked over a just-opened bottle of red wine… then I somehow caught it quick enough for it not to spill on the floor but to leave a big spatter mark on the wall.
You know a fun night happened when you wake up the next morning to find red wine all over your kitchen wall…
makes 2 large main course servings
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup butternut squash cubes (about 1 cm)
1/4 cup veggie broth
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 chopped onion
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 large leek, sliced (white and light green parts only)
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup organic arborio rice
3 cups veggie broth (plus another cup or so, if needed)
1-2 tablespoons earth balance butter
1/4 cup finely chopped sage
1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (optional)
1/4 – 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan or pecorino cheese (omit if vegan)
a few pinches of red pepper flakes
First, start your butternut squash. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add butternut squash cubes, salt and pepper. Cook until they start to brown, gently flipping, to get color on the other sides… about 5 minutes. Before they start to brown too much, add the veggie broth and stir. Reduce heat to low. Heat until they are tender and cooked through. Approx 20 minutes, depending on the heat of your stove. If the broth cooks down before they are done, add some more (or some water) to keep them from burning to the bottom of the pan.
When the squash are at least half done, start your risotto. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and half the leeks, and a bit of salt and pepper. Cook until the onion is translucent (but not browning), about 6 minutes. Add the garlic, stir and cook for about 2 more minutes. Add the rice, mix it together with the onions so the dry rice toasts a little bit. (about 1 minute). Add the wine, scrape up anything that’s sticking to the pan, and let the wine simmer down for another minute.
Add broth 1 ladle at a time, stirring continuously. Each time the liquid cooks down, add another ladle full. Before you add the last ladle of broth, add the butternut squash, the remainder of the leeks, rosemary, sage, a pat of butter, and grated cheese. Stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve immediately. Top with pine nuts and a pinch of red pepper flakes.
alternatively, you can add your butternut squash cubes to your risotto pan right after the onions… as you cook your risotto they will melt apart into the risotto rather than remain cube shaped. Both ways are equally delicious.