Thursday, March 25, 2010

Risotto with Butternut Squash, Gorgonzola, and Toasted Pecans

I have already talked about my love for Oprah, but I can't emphasize enough what a great resource her website is for fabulous guest-worthy recipes. I stumbled upon this recipe a few years ago, and it has been a dinner party go-to ever since. Almost every time I make it, I receive a follow-up email the next day from someone asking for the recipe. People always seem a little hesitant when I start to add the Gorgonzola and pecans, but the tangy crunch compliments the risotto so well. We had a Gorgonzola disaster the last time I made this (and by "disaster", I mean it had gone bad well before the expiration date), and it just wasn't the same--it felt naked. So don't be afraid. Embrace the topping.

A note about preparing the dish: Risotto has always sounded intimidating to me, but it actually isn't very hard at all. It does require a bit of patience, and you can't wander off for more than a minute or two (it needs to be stirred pretty frequently). This recipe can be made with either chicken or vegetable stock. I prefer chicken, but I have made this for vegetarian friends with the vegetable stock, and it still tastes great.

Here is what you will need:

Step 1: Bring the stock to a boil in a small sauce pan and then lower the heat. In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over a medium-high flame, heat the olive oil. Add the onion. Sauté for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Step 2: Add the rice; stir until well coated, about 1 minute.

Step 3: Add the garlic and squash and continue to stir another 30 seconds.

Step 4: Lower the heat to medium and add 1/2 cup hot stock. With a wooden spoon, stir until the liquid is absorbed but the rice isn't sticking to the pan.

Step 5: Continue adding 1/2 cup stock and stirring until the stock is absorbed, about 20 to 25 minutes, or until the rice is tender.

Step 6: Remove from heat; add the sage, butter, and salt. Season with pepper. Stir to combine. NOTE: The recipe calls for 2 tsp of salt. I think that is WAY too much (maybe because I don't use low-sodium stock usually). Start off with 1 tsp, and if you think it needs more, go for it.

Step 7: Place risotto in a serving bowl and top with Gorgonzola and pecans.

List of Ingredients:
•4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
•2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
•1/2 small onion , finely chopped
•1 cup arborio rice
•2 cloves small garlic , finely chopped
•1 medium butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
•8 large sage leaves , chopped
•2 tablespoons butter
•2 teaspoons salt
•Freshly ground pepper
•1/3 cup crumbled Gorgonzola
•1/4 cup chopped toasted pecans

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