Monday, October 25, 2010

Risotto For Mama And Baby

Oh hello, dear readers. Kind, loyal readers. Remember me? The idiot foodie who thought she could take care of a toddler and a food blog at the same time? Well, life sure has taught me a lesson. Clearly I'm spending far too much time with the kid, and I really need to cut the umbilical cord and turn him loose in the world to earn his own way.

I'm kidding, I'm kidding. Geez. Just some mommy humor. Except I'm totally serious about him earning a living, because let's face it, diapers and formula are expensive. How does one get in touch with the producers of "Toddlers and Tiaras", anyone?

KIDDING. Again. For goodness sakes, calm down everyone. It's late at night, and I'm in the mood to tease. Now, take a deep breath, and rest assured that my baby will live an exploitation-free life!

But while Baby B benefits from having the full attention of his Mama whenever he wants it (more and more these days, because the little guy has started crawling now), my darlin' blog continues to suffer silently. *Sigh*. Well, I'm here now, and will try to make it up to you by offering up a spectacular yet simple concoction, in keeping with the season, and my new favorite fall dish.
There must be a ton of butternut squash risotto recipes out there, but I've tweaked them here and there to make my very own version of this luscious dish. First of all, instead of the usual shallots or onions, it uses leeks, which offer a different kind of subtle onion flavor and sweetness to the dish. In case you've never worked with leeks before, you need to lop off the dark green tops and roots, and use mostly the white and light green parts. Chop up the leeks first (like you would celery stalks), and then soak them in a big bowl of tap water. That's really the only way you can remove all the hidden grit and dirt.
The humble, and strangely phallic, butternut squash lends itself to many appetizing applications. I've even used it as a great source of nutrition for Baby B, who is showing his food-loving tendencies pretty early on by gobbling up this finished risotto.

Butternut Squash & Leek Risotto
Serves 2-3

Click here for printable recipe

1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
2 leeks
1 tsp minced garlic
1 cup arborio rice
4-5 cups chicken or vegetable stock (I used chicken)
1 sprig rosemary
Few sage leaves
1 butternut squash
1/2 cup parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Cut butternut squash in half, brush both sides with olive oil, then sprinkle on some salt and pepper. Cut side up on a baking sheet, roast it for 45 mins. Once cooled slightly, scrape the pulp away from the skin and mash with a fork till smooth.

2. Heat the stock in a separate saucepan, with the rosemary, till simmering.

3. In another pan, heat the oil and butter. Add the leeks and sage leaves and saute for 5 mins. Then add the garlic and saute for another min.

4. Stir in the rice and coat well with the oil and leeks - another 1-2 mins.

5. Now start adding the stock, one ladle at a time, stirring it around until it's absorbed by the rice. Continue doing this till the rice is tender but not mushy (takes about 15 mins).

6. Once the risotto is nearly done, plop in the butternut squash puree, grated parmesan cheese and salt/pepper to taste. Stir well, then serve immediately with more parmesan cheese on the side!
Verdict: Great googly-moogly, that is good! Golden deliciousness. It lights up your mouth with warm flavors and a creamy texture. This is definitely my new favorite risotto. And it does double duty, because Baby B can eat it too. I just go light on the salt. It's fun for me to see our entire family at the dinner table, tucking in to exactly the same dish, and loving every mouthful. Now if only I could get my cat hooked on to it - but alas, he prefers his stinky canned whatever-it-is cat food. Oh well, more for me and Baby B!