Butternut Squash Risotto with Chard and Leeks

I made this using kind of a mash-up of two recipes: this one and one from Cook’s Illustrated. It’s a nice way to use the last of the fall harvest. Somewhat labor intensive but it makes a lot of food (we have enough leftovers for several lunches).

Peel and seed one butternut squash, and dice up the flesh of the squash. In a large, deep skillet or dutch oven heat two tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat; add the squash along with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and sauté until golden-brown and tender, about ten minutes.

While the squash is cooking, chop up two leeks (or onions) and two cloves of garlic. Wash and stem one bunch of chard.

Also, put four cups of chicken or vegetable broth and one cup of water in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over high heat. Once it’s at a simmer, turn the heat down as low as you can to keep it warm while you continue cooking the vegetables.

When the squash is done, remove it to a bowl and set aside. Add one teaspoon olive oil to the skillet and swirl to coat. Turn the heat down to medium. Add the chard; cover the skillet and let steam for a couple of minutes, then uncover and stir until chard is fully wilted. Move the cooked chard to a strainer.

Melt three tablespoons of butter in the skillet and, when foaming subsides, add the leeks and garlic along with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Sauté until leeks are softened, about five minutes. Add two cups of Arborio rice and cook, stirring frequently, until the rice is translucent around the edges. This only takes a few minutes.

Pour in one and a half cups of white wine and stir until the rice has absorbed the liquid, about five minutes. When the wine is fully absorbed, add three cups of the hot broth and the reserved squash and stir it up. Let simmer, stirring every few minutes, until the rice has absorbed the broth and the bottom of the pan is almost dry. Then start adding the rest of the broth, one half cup at a time, stirring and simmering, adding more liquid every time the bottom of the pan gets sticky, until the rice is al dente. If you run out of broth and the rice isn’t tender yet, just start adding water.

While you’re letting the rice simmer, you can grate 3/4 cup of Parmesan cheese: or better yet, have somebody else grate it for you.

When the rice is done or almost done, turn off the heat and stir in one more tablespoon of butter, the Parmesan, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (you get much better flavor if you buy whole nutmegs and grate them fresh), and two tablespoons minced fresh sage. Squeeze any extra liquid out of your chard, chop it roughly, and fold it into the risotto. Taste the rice and adjust the seasonings as you like (I added more salt).

Serve topped with pine nuts, if you want.

Leave a Reply