Fall is the perfect time for butternut squash recipes. Although winter squashes are available year-round – guess what? They are better and more flavorful in the fall and winter months!
The smaller, more elongated butternut squashes with less of a bulb at the bottom are actually sweeter, and easier to prep because they have fewer seeds and fibrous innards to remove. The one I used for this risotto was a little under a pound (about 14 ounces).
The other huge benefit to butternut squash is that it will keep well for a month or more. I classify various types of winter squash (along with onions, potatoes, and sweet potatoes) as my pantry veggies. Unlike vegetables that need to be refrigerated (and can easily perish within a week), pantry veggies are invaluable – particularly in fall and winter months when I may not get to the Farmers Market every Saturday. As long as I keep them in a fairly cool place with good air circulation (mine are hanging in wire baskets), they have saved my life on many occasions when my refrigerated veggies looked . . . a little sad.
Speaking of a little sad, I added several cups of organic spinach that were no longer salad-worthy to my risotto. You can finely mince the leaves or cut them in slim ribbons and they will add color and a new dimension of flavor to the risotto.
And my plant-based protein? None other than Field Roast Smoked Apple Sage Sausage – one of my family’s favorite meat analogues. I love that Field Roast uses seitan (wheat gluten), mixed with fresh veggies (potatoes), fruit (dried apples), and an interesting spice combination (ginger, sage, and hickory smoke) to create an appetizing vegan sausage that is tasty either chopped or grated in this recipe. Do I wish it was gluten-free as well as being vegan? Absolutely! I keep hoping that Field Roast or its competitors are working on more gluten-free options. But for now, if I want to add a plant-based protein to a dish that is a dead ringer for the Chicken Apple Sausage that my carnivores like, Field Roast is still tops on my list.
For my vegan friends, feel free to replace the unsalted butter in the recipe with Earth Balance Organic Whipped Buttery Spread, and omit the sprinkling of Parmesan. Your Butternut Squash Risotto will still be delicious!
- 4–5 cups vegetable broth or stock
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 organic butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- 1½ cups uncooked Arborio rice
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 cups fresh baby spinach leaves, cut into slivers or minced
- 2 Field Roast Smoked Apple Sage Sausages (half of the package), casings removed, sausages quartered lengthwise, and chopped into small pieces (or grated with a box grater)
- ¾ cup toasted organic walnuts, chopped
- ¾ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (plus extra for the table)
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Heat the broth or stock in a saucepan.
- Heat a large skillet and melt the butter. Add onion and sauté for 5–6 minutes. Add the squash pieces to the onion and sauté for about 6 more minutes.
- Add the rice, and sauté for a minute or two before adding the wine. Sauté until the wine is completely absorbed, about 2–3 minutes.
- When the rice has completely absorbed the wine, begin adding warm broth or stock, about ½ cup at a time. Cook and stir as the liquid is absorbed, and add the spinach with the last cup of liquid. Keep adding liquid until the rice is just barely al dente.
- Add the sausage pieces (or grated sausage), turn the heat very low, and cover for another couple of minutes. Stir in the optional cheese and a little sea salt and pepper to taste. Turn off the heat. Cover and let stand for a minute. Stir again, adjust the seasonings, sprinkle with chopped walnuts, and serve immediately.
- Remember, risotto waits for no man, woman or child!
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BTW: I hate that there has been such a gap since my last post. I fractured two ribs falling through the sheetrock in my attic about a month ago. Definitely not my finest moment!