Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Simple, Fast, and Made For Clean Eating: Butternut Squash Risotto.

   Over the last couple of months I've posted quite a few pictures of my incredible butternut squash crop this season. I love this particular vegetable and I've used it in a lot of my Indian recipes over the years.  However, butternut squash is loved by all cuisines, and as I've said before, when the holidays come round and I'm doing entertaining for my Italian family, my mind turns to pastas and risottos, traditional Italian comfort foods.

   My friend Judy Witts Francini aka Divina Cucina is another local Bay Area girl, a San Francisco pastry chef who has been cooking, living, and teaching cooking in Italy for the last 30 years. If you're going to Italy, Judy's the person to get in touch with for classes, culinary tours, and  anything you might want in food and wine. Very often late at night California time and early morning back in Florence, Judy and I text each other and talk food, and Italy. She happens to live in a village outside of Florence and buys her olive oil from Mrs. Gori of  Villa Il Pozzo  one of the Gori ancestral homes.

   Judy always gives me flashbacks of family cooking since I've spent the last 26 years mainly cooking Indian food. When I want a taste of "home cooking" she's always there with a recipe. Judy has given me recipes for things that I haven't seen outside the dining room of my grandparent's old Victorian house on Sacramento Street in San Francisco. Today I'm sharing a risotto recipe that I got from her. It's a quick, easy, recipe that's perfect for weeknight dinners as it can be on the table in about 20 minutes. After all the frantic holiday action we've had around here that's definitely a really good thing. So, without further ado, Butternut Squash Risotto.

Butternut Squash Risotto


 Here's What You Need:
1 Butternut squash
1 shallot, or 1 garlic clove thinly sliced
1 small piece of ginger, peeled and minced
1 cup of peeled and cubed  Butternut squash
1 tsp toasted crumbled saffron
1 cup arborio rice
2 cups water
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
balsamic vinegar

Here's What To Do:
Cut the butternut squash into cubes and set it aside.

Thinly slice one shallot, or if you prefer, 1 garlic clove.

Peel and slice a 1 inch piece of ginger and chop it finely.

Set all of it aside.

Measure out 1 cup of arborio rice and a tsp of saffron.
Heat 1 Tbs of olive oil in a pot, swirl it around so that the bottom of the pot is coated in the oil.

When the oil is hot, toss in the ginger and shallot or garlic.

Stir everything around until the shallot or garlic is translucent, and starting to brown.

Add in the toasted crumbled saffron.

Add in the cubed butternut squash.

Stir it around so that it is coated with saffron, ginger, and shallot or garlic.
Add in the arborio rice and stir it around until it is hot to the touch.

Pour 2 cups of water into the mixture in the pot.

Bring it to a boil, then cover the pot, and turn down the heat.

Let everything cook for about 14 minutes. The water should be absorbed by then.
Stir the rice for the first time, then add in about 1/2 cup grated Parmesan...

...and another 1/2 cup of water and start stirring for real. The stirring will give the risotto a creamy texture without actually adding any cream.
Check for salt and add what you feel it needs.
Place it into individual bowls.
And get ready for the balsamic vinegar.

I always use Barrel Aged Balsamic from Sonoma Harvest.
Shave a bit of aged Parmesan over each serving.

Then drizzle a bit of aged balsamic over that.

Serve it up, and Florentine dinner is on the table.

   My ancestors couldn't have enjoyed anything better. Poking around in a bunch of family documents I read about a dinner given by one of the Goris and among the guests was The Sforza Duchess, and some Medicis. I don't know if this was on the table, but it should have been. Coming up next, a return to Indian food, I meet the champagne of Basmati Rice, and more clean eating for a clean New Year! Follow along on Twitter @kathygori


  1. One of my favorite cold weather risottos! The thing is, store-bought butternut squash can be a bit bland, at least around these parts. But I can just imagine the flavor when you make it with your own crop must be marvelous.

    Btw, the Gori homestead is certainly quite impressive, perhaps we should call you Lady Kathy... ?

  2. Thanks Frank! I like that ring of that!!
    We are some sort of Medici cousins as we appear on the family tree. We married into the Albizzi and Panellinini families and the Grand Contonental Hotel in Siena is the old Gori- Pannelini Palace.



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