Butternut Squash Risotto

So, the husband and I always make out a meal plan before we go grocery shopping. We decide what we’re going to be eating for the next week (sometimes two) and that makes shopping a LOT easier.

This past week I decided I wanted to try a butternut squash risotto recipe because…well, it’s fall. If you’ve read more than one entry in this blog you probably already know my love of everything autumn and my love of squash, so it’s not strange that I got ridiculously excited about this risotto recipe.

The problem was, once we got to the store there was literally only one butternut squash left. And it was SIX POUNDS. What in the world was I supposed to do with six pounds of butternut squash? Well, I bought it anyway. Mostly because I didn’t even think that all of the pumpkin patches would have squash this time of year, but also because I love butternut squash so much I figured it wouldn’t be a big deal to eat it in a couple different forms.

So we got the thing home, cubed it, made some soup with about two pounds of it, froze that. Decided I would roast some of the cubes with a little maple syrup and cinnamon later on in the week (recipe to come). Then I got to make this:

Butternut Squash Risotto

Ingredients

1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine (I never make my risotto with wine, I subbed in 1/2 cup veggie broth)
2 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) vegetable broth, mixed with 1/2 cup water and heated
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage, plus more for garnish

1) Melt butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add cubed butternut squash. Season with salt and pepper. Stir frequently while cooking to make sure the squash doesn’t stick. Cook until the edges of the butternut squash soften, approximately 6-8 minutes.

2) Meanwhile, in a separate pan, place veggie broth and heat to a gentle simmer. Keep this broth warm throughout cooking.

3) Add rice to butternut squash mixture and stir to coat. Allow to toast in the pan for approximately 30 seconds. Add 1/2 cup of white wine and cook until almost all liquid has evaporated. (This is where I subbed in veggie broth for wine.)

4) Reduce heat to medium-low and add 1/2 cup hot broth mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, until almost all liquid is absorbed. Add remaining broth mixture 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until liquid is absorbed before adding the next half cup.

5) After the last bit of veggie broth has been added, stir mixture until most liquid has been absorbed and the rice looks creamy. Remove from heat, add Parmesan cheese and sage. Stir until mixed well and cheese has melted.

6) Serve immediately and garnish with more Parmesan and sage if desired.

If you notice in the original recipe, which is a Martha Stewart recipe, they tell you to add an extra 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt at the end of cooking. DO NOT DO IT. That is either a typo or someone is crazy because that is WAY too much salt. The broth has enough salt in it that you won’t need to add the extra at the end. Even if you use low-sodium broth, that extra salt they say to add at the end will overpower any good flavors.

And this dish does have an amazing flavor. I absolutely LOVED it. It was delicious and creamy and perfect on a cool night.

Since I mentioned that I replace the white wine with broth, I will say that I honestly have no idea what kind of difference that makes in the flavor. I have never made risotto with wine, I always replace it with broth. It’s just easier and then I don’t have a bottle of cooking wine hanging around my house that would only be used on the rare occasion that I make risotto. If you try it with wine, let me know how it goes!

Next time I’ll probably halve the recipe because it was supposed to feed four and the leftovers did not heat up so well (which isn’t surprising, but I tried anyway).

Either way, this is an amazing autumn dinner that you should definitely try.

Brown Rice Veggie Wraps

I have a tendency to “eat with my eyes”, as my husband puts it. I had never heard that expression before, but apparently it just means I decide if I’m going to like something before I even taste it. I fully admit I did that with this recipe. I honestly thought, while I was cooking it, that it was going to be terrible. Mostly because I don’t really like beans, which can be a problem if you’re a vegetarian.

But then, dinner was ready. And I was pleasantly surprised. These wraps are actually really delicious.

Brown Rice Veggie Wraps

Serves 6
371 calories/serving

Ingredients:

1 medium sweet red or green pepper, diced
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 can (16 ounces) kidney beans, rinsed and drained (I halved this)
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 flour tortillas (8 inches), room temperature (I used whole wheat)
1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese
3/4 cup salsa

1) In a large nonstick skillet,over medium heat, saute the pepper, mushrooms, and garlic in oil until tender (about 8 minutes).

2) Add the cooked rice, beans, green onions, cumin, pepper and salt. Cook and stir for 4-6 minutes or until heated through.

3) Spoon 3/4 cup onto each tortilla. Sprinkle with cheese and drizzle with salsa. Fold sides of tortillas over, serve immediately.

This is an adaptation of the Taste of Home recipe.

Chad loved this recipe, so we actually agreed on this one. That definitely doesn’t happen all the time. 🙂

The wraps took about half an hour to make, so it wasn’t too time consuming. I did halve the beans (because I hate them) and used whole wheat tortillas because that is what we had in the house.  One wrap was incredibly filling so I just had some fruit on the side, and now we have leftovers for lunch tomorrow! Perfection.

Stuffed Red Bell Peppers with Basil

I have been a little lazy in the kitchen lately. I admit we’ve been eating a lot of grilled cheese, frozen pizza, and (gasp!) Easy Mac. None of those things are exactly blog worthy (or terribly healthy).

Because of that, and because I have the best husband ever (he made me chocolate chip pancakes this morning, shaped like Mickey Mouse!) I decided I should actually make something substantial for dinner even though I REALLY didn’t feel like cooking.

Here is my (strictly inexpert) advice: if you don’t want to cook, if you just aren’t feeling it for whatever reason, do not take on a meal that is going to take an hour and require you to do more than one thing at a time. Just don’t do it. Make something easy. In other words, don’t make this recipe.

Stuffed Red Bell Peppers with Basil

Ingredients:

3/4 cup long grain white or brown rice (I used white)
4 large red bell peppers
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, chopped
4 shallots, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
3 Tablespoons chopped, toasted walnuts (I left these out.)
2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1/3 cup raisins (I left these out, too.)
4 Tablespoons grated cheddar cheese
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste
Fresh basil sprigs and lemon wedges to garnish (optional)

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2) Cook rice in pan of lightly salted boiling water for approximately 20 minutes for white rice or 35 minutes for brown rice. Drain rice, rinse under cold running water, then drain again.

3) Using a sharp knife, cut off tops of bell peppers and set aside. Remove seeds and white cores, then blanch the peppers and tops in boiling water for two minutes. Remove from water and turn peppers upside down on towels to dry.

4) Heat half the olive oil (1 Tablespoon) in large skillet. Add garlic and shallots and cook, stirring consistently, for three minutes. Add celery, walnuts, tomatoes, lemon juice, and raisins and cook for an addition five minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cheese, salt, pepper, and basil.

5) Add cooked rice to skillet and stir into tomato mixture.

6) Stuff peppers with rice mixture and arrange them in a baking dish. Place the tops on the bell peppers, drizzle with remaining olive oil, cover loosely with foil and bake for 45 minutes.

Chad and I both really liked this dish, but making it was a complete mess. I was trying to cook the rice, blanch the peppers, cook the veggie mixture at one time. I made a huge mess of my kitchen.

Then, when it was time to put the peppers in the oven I realized I was out of aluminum foil. I ended up baking the peppers in an oven safe pot with the lid on it, but while putting the pot in the oven I managed to burn my hand.

Basically I was a one woman disaster tonight.  But dinner eventually did get finished and eaten. This is a husband approved dish, which means I will be making it again.

But next time I am in the mood I was in tonight, we will be having Easy Mac. 🙂

**This recipe came from the Perfect Vegetarian cookbook I got for Christmas!**