Tuesday, April 24, 2012

butternut squash risotto

What the heck is with a snow storm in April after experiencing one of (if not) the warmest winters on record? It's unexpected to have a dinner like risotto be appetizing this time of year, but Monday’s storm proved there is still time for warm comfort food. So we had Butternut Squash Risotto from Everyday Food Light last night.

I had a game plan to buy a bag of frozen butternut squash (which I bought quite frequently along with sweet potato a couple years ago at Zehrs in their frozen organics). These were so great for when Owen just started solids – it was the ultimate easy cheat for mixing purees. Well, the goods gone and I’m not happy. Frozen vegetables are not something I use often, but I always have edamame, peas and corn on hand. I have to go to the US to find more interesting frozen vegetables such as diced roasted red & poblano peppers. I think they should take half of the frozen foods department and revise them for healthier and more interesting produce and cut out some of the seasoned fries, frozen pizzas and over manufactured entrees. But what do I know about what sells?  I ended up buying the squash from the produce department, like I really should have all along.
Back to some notes about this dinner. I love risotto when it’s done right and it’s like tasting a warm snuggle. Unfortunately this dinner didn't reach those heights. The thing that I don’t like about this recipe is the lack of richness and depth of flavour. I'm not one to add mounds of butter to my risotto, but even with a 1/3 cup of parmesan cheese the flavour never really came through. Lots of salt and sage made this tasty, but not anything we’d ever have again. This was the first time Owen’s rejected risotto, so I’m thinking we’ll stick to our favourite flavour combos of peas and prosciutto and mushroom. I think this might be a great option if you’re a fan of butternut squash, but I have to admit is one of my least favourite vegetables anyway.

Risotto takes a little while to make, there isn't much we can do about that (although I have soaked the rice in an attempt to speed up the cooking process - and I'm pretty sure it worked). But I’ve come up with a tip that simplifies things and really helps with clean-up. Every risotto recipe I’ve cooked from asks for stock to be heated in a saucepan and ladle into the cooking rice. I used to do it that way and made a mess of the stove top. Now I microwave the stock in my largest measuring cup and zap it every 5 or so minutes to keep the temperature up. It works like a charm!

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