Living in California, I love the year-round access to my favorite farmer's markets and winter veggies are some of my favorites. I love all the various greens & squash. They actually even taste great paired together with pastas and sometimes sausage or other rendered fat. That's another recipe for another day.
My Thanksgiving table seats at least one vegetarian every year and so I plan to make a main dish that both the vegetarian can enjoy and that the carnivores can sample as well. I was thinking of making a lasagna this year, but found this recipe with a friend recently in A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen. I just acquired a used copy of this fabulous book and it is fantastic! The book was written by Cook's Illustrated executive editor Jack Bishop. So far, everything I've made or tried from this book has been excellent. I love that the book is divided up by season - the recipes really highlight seasonal stars that should be readily available to cooks.
This risotto came together quickly after the squash (butternut in my first batch) was roasted. Often times risotto seems like a burdensome meal to prepare, but it is pure comfort food to me and this recipe was easier on the scale of some I've tried previously.
Winter Squash Risotto with Sage and Parmesan
2 1/2 pounds winter squash, halved, seeds and strings removed and reserved
3 T unsalted butter, 1 T melted
1 quart vegetable stock
1 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
3/4 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for passing
1T minced fresh sage
Freshly grated nutmeg
Place oven rack in middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Place the squash, flesh side up, on a rimmed baking sheet. Brush with melted butter and season with salt. Bake until tender, about 45 minutes. When cool, scrape the flesh out and reserve. Discard the skins & mash the flesh until smooth.
Meanwhile, place the squash scrapings (seeds & strings) in a medium saucepan and add the vegetable broth and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until the flavor has been extracted from the squash scrapings, about 20 minutes. Strain the stock. Do not wash the saucepan. Return stock to the pan along with enough water to make 6 cups. (you'll need about 2 cups of water). Bring to a simmer. Turn off heat and cover to keep warm.
Heat 1 T of butter and the oil in a heavy-bottomed medium sauce pan over medium heat. When the foaming stops, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Stirring constantly with wooden spoon, add the rice and cook for 1 minute. Add the wine and cook, stirring often, until the wine nearly evaporates, about 2 minutes. Add 1 cup of hot stock and cook, stirring frequently, until the rice absorbs the liquid. Continue adding broth in 3/4-cup increments and stirring often until the rice is creamy (not soupy) and soft but still a bit al dente. This will take about 25 minutes (possibly less) and you probably won't need all the broth.
Remove the pan from the heat and vigorously stir in the roasted squash, cheese, sage and remaining 1 T of butter. Keep stirring until the butter melts. Adjust seasonings, adding salt and nutmeg to taste. Serve immediately, passing more grated cheese at the table.