Growing up in the South, I lived off of canned vegetables. Creamed corn with extra butter, anyone? Yes, we did have small farmstands on the side of the road, but I think the only time we ever actually stopped was to get baskets full of Georgia peaches.
So when I moved to New York, the farmer’s market became a place to get in touch with nature among the urban concrete. It took me a while to get comfortable with the farmer’s market. It was all so wonderful, but also overwhelming. I would go and leave empty-handed because I didn’t have a plan.
About 5 years ago I changed my perspective. I decided to go to the farmer’s market without a plan (and be okay with that), see what was in season, pick something, and then figure out what to do with it. One year I chose a butternut squash. At that point I don’t think I had ever even eaten butternut squash. I certainly didn’t know what was inside or how I was supposed to cut it up.
Luckily I found a Butternut Squash Risotto recipe in Martha Stewart Living. Now, at that point I had also never made risotto so I was really challenging myself. Of course, I wouldn’t have written 3 paragraphs if it hadn’t turned out to be out-of-this-world. I make it at least once a year. It’s creamy and cheesy, and warm with a dash of nutmeg.
Serves 4 to 6
1 medium butternut squash
6 cups Homemade Chicken Stock, or canned low-sodium chicken broth, skimmed of fat
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 shallots, minced
2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
Freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary, plus sprigs for garnish
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Cut squash into eighths; discard seeds. In a large pot filled with 1 inch of simmering water, steam squash on a steaming rack or in a bamboo steamer until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Scoop flesh from skin and mash lightly.
- In a large saucepan, heat stock to a simmer. In a large heavy saucepan over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter. Add oil and shallots; cook for 2 minutes. Add rice; cook, stirring, for 5 minutes.
- Add wine to rice, and cook, stirring, until wine is nearly absorbed. Stir in a cup of stock and the squash; cook at a steady simmer until liquid is nearly absorbed. Continue stirring in stock, a ladleful at a time, until rice is creamy and firm but not hard in the center, 15 to 20 minutes. Add nutmeg, salt, and pepper to taste. Add chopped rosemary. Stir in remaining butter and most of the Parmesan. Serve immediately in shallow bowls garnished with the remaining cheese and rosemary sprigs.
♦ Buttery B