A few years ago, I saw my first dik-dik. I had just moved to Germany to do a study abroad and before any classes, before finding my apartment, I went to the zoo.
I had thought that by the time I was the wise, all-knowing age of 20, I had already seen all the animals. So it was very disconcerting to have to read the little placards to find out what I was looking at.
Well, the other day at the grocery store I had a similar experience. I thought that I knew all the vegetables. While technically I have eaten butternut squash, I have never cooked it myself, so I didn't have any idea what it looked like in its full form. I had to peruse every single shelf in the produce aisle, carefully reading the little tags to find out which one was acorn squash and which one was spaghetti squash, until finally I spotted it.
Once I did find it, I got it home and had to tackle the next obstacle and figure out how to cook it. Turns out it's very easy, but it's still weird to cut into something and not know what it's going to look like in there.
Luckily, looking like an idiot in front of the produce dude was worth it. I love all risotto, but I especially love this risotto. You will too, and now that I've shown you what butternut squash looks like, you don't have to suffer the embarrassing (and time-consuming) experience of wandering around the pumpkins for an afternoon.
BUTTERNUT SQUASH RISOTTO
Recipe slightly adapted from Rachael Ray
1 qt. chicken stock
1 c. water
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 c. arborio rice
1 c. vermouth
1 butternut squash
2 Tbsp. butter
1 c. parmesan cheese, grated
1. Cut butternut squash in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and pulp. Remove the rind, using either a knife or vegetable peeler. Cut into cubes and spread out on a baking sheet. Bake at 400˚ for about 30 minutes (check doneness with a fork).
2. In a small saucepan, heat water and chicken stock. Simmer over low heat while cooking the rice.
3. In a large skillet, add olive oil, garlic and onion and cook for a few minutes until onions become translucent. Add rice and cook another 2 minutes to toast slightly.
4. To the rice, add vermouth and cook out the alcohol.
5. Over medium to medium-high heat, add ladles of the chicken stock mixture to the rice. Repeat this process for 18 minutes, allowing the stock to evaporate each time.
6. In the last 3 minutes of cooking time, add the squash and nutmeg to the rice. In the last minute of cooking, add the butter, parmesan and salt and pepper to taste.