I love risotto. I think it’s really fun to make and almost a cathartic process with all the adding, mixing and stirring. It’s been a bit chilly in Boston (or at least I think so after coming from beautifully sunny weather on Sanibel Island), so this seemed like the perfect time to post Vegetable Risotto using zucchini, butternut squash and spinach. To stay in a true vegetarian nature, I used homemade vegetable stock, but have also used homemade chicken stock, which adds just as much flavor (see notes for how to). You’d never know cream or milk haven’t been added in. Mixing in freshly grated parmesan cheese still gives the risotto a decadent taste without being over-the-top and the butternut squash almost melts down to add a creamy texture to the risotto. Can I have seconds yet?
Ingredients (makes 8 c with 6-8 servings).
- 2 T light olive oil
- 1/2 c onions, finely chopped
- 1/2 t minced garlic
- 2 c Arborio rice
- 1/2 c dry white wine
- 6-8 c vegetable stock *
- 2 c baby spinach, finely chopped
- 2 c butternut squash, cubed and roasted +
- 1 zucchini, quartered and sliced
- 1/3 to 1/2 c parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
- Crushed red pepper
* Note: if you prefer to make homemade chicken broth, place leftover bones and skin from a rotisserie (or home cooked) chicken carcass into a large stock pot. Add 2-3 cloves garlic. Add vegetables like celery, onion, carrots (optional — really depends on how you cooked your chicken and its original flavors). Fully cover carcass with water. Bring to a boil and simmer 2-3 hrs. Strain. After placing cooled stock in the fridge, skim off any fat before using. Makes about 8 c. Store in fridge for 1 wk or in freezer for 3 months. Way lower in sodium and fat than any stock that’s store-bought!
+ I’ve also used 1 package of frozen butternut squash (thawed/cooked according to package directions). It works just as well and is less labor-intensive and time efficient.
- In a large pot, sauté oil, garlic and onions until onions are translucent. Add carrots and rice; stir constantly for about 2 min. Add white wine and continue to stir.
- Heat stock in the microwave so it’s steaming. In 1-2 c increments, add hot vegetable broth to rice, again while stirring constantly over medium heat. Rice should barely simmer.
- Once the broth is absorbed, continue adding hot broth as needed and cook for about 30 min until the rice is cooked through barely al dente.
- After adding 4 c of broth, stir in zucchini and butternut squash. Both will cook during the time you have to add the additional broth.
- Add chopped spinach and mix until beginning to wilt.
- Remove the pan from heat, stir in freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Mix well before serving.
- Top with extra freshly grated parmesan cheese and red pepper.
- Serve hot and enjoy!
Adapted from my risotto with shrimp, parmesan and peas.