I don’t know if you’ll be able to tell or not (I hope so) but I just learned a bunch of things about lightning and food styling at Food Fight Write last week and this is my first post where I’m trying out some of those new “tricks”. Luckily I had the perfect subject to work with as I had just received a complimentary box of yumminess from Melissa’s Produce. Melissa’s Produce challenged local bloggers to create something new with their box of goodies. I was tasked with creating a recipe from at least three of the ingredients shown below. Only question was what goodies to choose?
The butternut squash seemed like an obvious focus to me and I honed in on that sucker and decided to make Roasted Butternut Squash and Chicken Risotto. I rounded out my choices with the pearl onions, the shallots and the pine nuts for a little crunch. I told Jake my dinner intentions and he seemed not very excited by the prospect of a whole meal with butternut squash in it. He just said that he would try it. Apparently there were no promises on actually liking the dish. Thanks, babe.
I did a simple roasting of the butternut squash with about half the bag of pearl onions. I peeled the pearl onions first which was kind of an annoying task but seemed like it would be easier in the end. A little drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper was all that was needed here. I roasted the onions for about 40 minutes and the butternut squash for an hour at 350 degrees.
The risotto itself is filled with layers of flavor from some white wine, my mom’s homemade chicken stock, sauteed shallots, the roasted pearl onions and butternut squash as well as a hint of nutmeg, some chopped sage, toasted pine nuts and shredded chicken.
The addition of the chicken turns this into a harmonious dish. We’ve got our vegetable, our starch and our protein all together in one pot!
Risotto is actually a pretty easy dish to make. You don’t have to sit there and stir constantly the entire time. You can add the stock, give it a stir and step away for a few minutes and it’ll be fine. You might not want to start watching an intense show on TV while watching this (like, say, The Walking Dead) but a fluff show would be fine. Nothing you need really to pay attention to. Pay attention to the risotto instead and you’ll be rewarded.
Once it all comes together you stir in a little butter and a little Parmesan cheese and you’re all set to go. You don’t even need to add the chicken if you don’t want to. It’s perfectly fine without it. But the chicken makes it a little more robust and more of a full meal.
Hope you get to try this one! I really liked how it turned out and I’m happy to report that my non-butternut-squash-liking boyfriend really liked the Roasted Butternut Squash and Chicken Risotto after all. He told me a few times just how good he thought it was and even went back for seconds. He even suggested that it didn’t need the chicken. That he would have liked it without the chicken! I can’t tell you how surprising that was. He’s a real meat and potatoes kind of guy so this is a success in my book. I wonder if I can get him to go vegetarian for one meal a week. Hmm!
- For Roasting
- 1 butternut squash, deseeded (save seeds) and cut in half
- Bunch of pearl onions (about 20), peeled
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- For the Risotto
- olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 large shallot, chopped
- roasted pearl onions (from above), chopped
- 2 cups arborio rice
- 1 cup white wine
- 6 cups chicken stock (homemade or low sodium)
- chopped roasted butternut squash
- 1 cup cooked chicken thighs, shredded
- 1/8 teaspoon fresh nutmeg, grated
- 8-10 leaves of sage, chopped
- 3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 grated Parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper
- Set your oven to 350 degrees.
- Place butternut squash cut side up onto a pan with the peeled pearl onions. Drizzle both with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Toss the onions to coat and rub the oil and seasoning all over the squash. Roast for about 40 minutes, making sure to toss/turn the onions halfway through baking. Remove onions from the pan and continue to roast the squash for another 20 minutes or until fork tender. This step can be done in advance! When you're ready to use it, scoop it out of the husks and cube it into small squares.
- Set your chicken stock in a sauce pan to simmer. Add the reserved butternut squash seeds to the stock for a little added flavor. Let simmer for 10 minutes and remove seeds.
- Start your pan over medium high heat and add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of butter. When the butter starts to sizzle, add the chopped shallot and the chopped roasted pearl onions to the pan. Saute for about 2 minutes.
- Add the arborio rice and toss it to coat in the oil and onion mixture. You want to toast the rice at this point for about 3 minutes. Lower the heat to medium low and add the white wine and stir. Then add in 1 cup of chicken stock and stir again. Add the butternut squash and mix it in.
- About every 5 minutes, add an additional cup of stock to the pot and stir again. After about 5 cups of stock, taste your risotto to see if you have reached the desired doneness. The rice should be nice and tender but still have a slight "al dente" bite to it. Add your chicken at this point to heat through. Add nutmeg, sage, toasted pine nuts, butter and Parmesan cheese in the last few minutes of cooking. Season to taste and served immediately.
- For the chicken, I used chicken that was made from the homemade chicken stock. Alternatively, you could shred a prepared roasted chicken from the store.