Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto with Coconut

September went by really quickly and there is no denying, fall is around the corner. The temperatures drop, the days get colder, cooler and shorter, and the interest in standing in the kitchen and cooking rises again. I cooked this the other day, it is a new spin on an Italian risotto. Instead of the usual flavors of creamy, salty parmesan and maybe lemon and rice, I played with an Indian inspiration: coconut oil, coconut milk and a hint of garam masala and roasted butternut squash, which is in season right now at the farmers markets. This risotto is sweet, full of bold flavors and simply delicious and heart warming.

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Butternut squash risotto with coconut (for 2 people)
  • small 1 pound butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • coconut oil spray
  • salt
  • 1 TB coconut oil
  • 1 sweet onion, peeled, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled, grated
  • 1/2 cup of arborio risotto rice
  • 3 TB mirin (sweet rice wine vinegar) or light white wine
  • 3 cups of hot vegetable broth with some strands of saffron dissolved in it
  • 1/2 cup canned light coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 10 fresh curry leaves or lemon thyme
optional:
  • 1 spicy pepper, thinly sliced
  • 2 oz feta cheese, cubed
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Preparation:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. On a parchment paper or aluminium foil lined cookie sheet, distributed the butternut squash cubes, sprinkle with some salt, and spray with coconut oil spray (or any canola oil spray), mix, and distributed in an even layer again. Bake for about 20min until lightly roasted. Set aside.
  2. Preheat the vegetable stock with the saffron. It can be added hot, and does not bring down the temperature of the risotto. Set aside.
  3. Heat the coconut oil a heavy bottom sauce pan (Le Creuset pots are great for this) on medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic and curry leaves, and sweat on medium-low heat until translucent (2-3 minutes). Add the rice, stir and dry ‘toast’ for 30 seconds on medium heat. It brings out a nutty flavor in the rice. Now, add the mirin, and stir, loosen any browned bits from the pot’s surface with the rice wine vinegar. Simmer until most of the liquid is evaporated. 
  4. Turn down the heat to medium-low, and start ladling in 1/2 cup of hot stock to the risotto. Cook the risotto gently on low heat, stir often, and cook until the liquid is evaporated (4-5 min). Once the stock is evaporated, add another 1/2 cup of hot stock. Repeat until the rice is soft and cooked (about 25 min).
  5. During the last 10 minutes, add in half of the roasted butternut squash, the coconut milk and the garam masala. (Use the remaining roasted butternut squash to top the risotto or keep for later use).
  6. Optionally, add the chili and feta cheese. Adjust taste for saltiness and sweetness with adding salt and/or a teaspoon of raw honey (or not).
  7. Serve hot and steamy.

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