1 medium butternut squash (about 1 pound whole or 12 ounces cut up) or 1 thawed pkg. frozen squash
24 sage leaves (or use 2 tsp. dried sage, or omit completely - which is what I do)
Salt and pepper
7 to 8 cups chicken or vegetable stock, I prefer low sodium
1 medium onion, finely minced
2 T olive oil
1 T real butter or margarine if you prefer
2 cups uncooked Arborio rice
Scant 1/2 cup apple or white grape juice, plus 1 T of white vinegar
1/2 cup parmesan or romano cheese, grated
1) Peel squash, then dice into very small (1/4- or 1/3-inch) cubes. Combine squash, a few sage leaves, 1 cup stock, and a little salt in a heavy-bottomed pot. Bring to a simmer and cook until just barely tender (but not too soft) about 5 to 10 minutes. Drain and reserve liquid, just in case.
2) Put the remainder of the stock into a sauce pan, add 1 cup of hot water, then bring to a simmer, and keep it just barely simmering or steaming.
3) In another, larger, heavy-bottomed dutch oven sized pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over med. high heat. Add sage 1/2 the sage leaves, and cook for 30 seconds until crispy. Remove, and set aside on a paper towel for the end of the recipe. To the same pan add onion, the other 1/2 the sage and cook until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Turn heat to low, add rice and a pinch of salt and cook for 3 minutes, stirring often, until rice has turned slightly translucent. Turn the heat back up to medium, and add the juice and vinegar. Once the juice has been absorbed, add two-three ladles full of the simmering stock, just enough to reach the top of the rice. Stir well and reduce the heat back down to medium-low.
4) Gently simmer the rice, stirring occasionally, until stock is absorbed. Add another 1/2-to-3/4 cup warm stock, and stir occasionally until new stock is absorbed. Repeat the process until all the stock has been absorbed by the rice, and rice has a bit of a bite still, but is tender on the outside. You want just a little resistance in the middle, this is what separates risotto from American rice. If you run out of stock, add a cup of water it will be fine.
5) If you're using frozen squash, now is the time to heat it in the microwave until it's heated through. Otherwise, have a glass of apple juice and stir the rice occasionally.
6) When rice is mostly tender, add cooked squash, parmesan, and a tablespoon of butter. Cook 3 to 5 minutes, until dairy is melted and squash is heated through. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot, using sage leaves as garnish.
If you don't have butternut squash, you can also use canned carrot cubes, or shred raw carrots and saute' it with the onion. They're both delicious. And I usually dislike cooked carrots.
By the way, the second and third time I made this I used simple short grained rice from my food storage buckets, which reduces the price considerably. My family is lactose intolerant, and we find that we can use Sheep Milk Romano cheese (read the label) instead of parmesan and nobody gets a belly ache. During our milking season we also use a homemade parmesan cheese made with goat milk.
Risotto goes really well with Honey Mustard Chicken, home bottled green beans, and a smile.
Approximate Calories, Fat, Fiber, and Price Per Serving
371 calories, 10 g fat, 1.4 g fiber, $1.77 or less
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