Risotto may be more time consuming than most pasta dishes, but it is not difficult. The delicious outcome is most definitely worth the stirring and standing. Risotto often includes wine as an ingredient, and making risotto is even better when you have a glass of wine in hand!
The rice becomes creamy as the dish slowly simmers. All of the flavors just meld so well together; you have the sweet tastes from the vanilla and squash contrasted with the onions and the salty Parmesan cheese. The sautéed onions really take on all of the risotto flavors nicely. The vanilla is not overpowering and adds just a subtle sweetness.
Adding crushed slivered almonds or pancetta, roasting the butternut squash, or even throwing in some sage would be great ways to enhance the flavor of this already delectable risotto.
Butternut Squash and Vanilla Risotto
Yields 4 main course servings or 6 side dish servings
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 large vanilla bean
3 cups butternut squash cubes, peeled (1" width)
3 tbsp. butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Salt, to taste
Chives, to taste
In a medium saucepan, warm the broth over medium-high heat. Cut the vanilla bean down the middle, scrape out the seeds, and add the seeds and the bean to broth. When the broth begins to simmer, reduce the heat to low.
Add the butternut squash cubes to the summering broth and cook until tender, about 5 to 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the butternut squash to a bowl, and reduce the growth to a low heat and cover to keep warm.
In a large heavy saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat, add the onion, and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the rice, and stir to coat with the butter. Then, add the wine and simmer until the wine is completely evaporated. After, add 1/2 cup of the simmering broth and stir until completely absorbed, about 2-4 minutes. Continue cooking the rice and adding the broth 1/2 cup at a time. Allow the rice to absorb the broth before adding more.
After the broth is added and absorbed, remove the vanilla bean, and turn off the heat. Gently stir in the butternut squash, Parmesan cheese, the remaining tablespoon f butter, and any desired salt. Transfer the risotto to a serving bowl and sprinkle with chives.
Source: Giada De Laurentiis