SWEET SQUASH AND MUSHROOM RISOTTO
© Jane Q. Stanchich
Creamy Risotto is a beloved Italian comfort food and is an international gourmet favorite. Adding small cubes of autumn’s sweet winter squash, such as kabocha, buttercup, or butternut, takes risotto to a whole new level of sweet flavor and health! This is the recipe for authentic risotto, allowing the cook or cooks (in Italy, friends and family take turns stirring,) to lovingly incorporate the broth, creating a “stirring,” deeply satisfying dish.
HINT: Have positive thoughts as you cook, especially as you stir food!
PREPARE HOMEMADE VEGETABLE BROTH
Save 4 cups clean vegetable trimmings and stems in a bowl in the fridge: (onion, scallions, celery, carrots, parsley, mushrooms, broccoli) for three days. Place trimmings plus 2 bay leaves in a 3 quart soup pot and add 8 cups good water. Bring to boil, cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 45 minutes. Strain all solids and place the broth into a large measuring cup and reserve. You need a total of 6 cups broth. This can be done the day before. Sediment will gather at the very bottom inch of the broth, so avoid the bottom sediment. (You may use commercial organic vegetable broth as an option.)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 12 to 16 ounces coarsely chopped mushrooms, a combination of varieties, if possible; clean well
- 1 cup winter squash, peeled, seeded, and diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 green onions (scallions), thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 cups short grain brown rice, rinsed twice (don’t soak)
- 5 pinches sea salt
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- 1/2 teaspoon Herbs de Province
- 1/2 cup green peas, blanched
- 1/2 cup vegan Parmesan “cheese” (optional)
COOKING THE RISOTTO
In a large skillet, on medium, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the cleaned, chopped mushrooms and cook, stirring, until they are lightly browned. Add the winter squash, garlic and green onions and continue cooking for one minute. Transfer this mushroom mixture (along with any liquids) to a bowl; cover and set aside.
Add the other 1 Tablespoon of oil to a 2 quart pan. Add the rice and toast, stirring, until aromatic, 3 to 4 minutes. Add 1 cup of broth and the sea salt. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the liquid is absorbed. Add 1/2 cup of broth and cook, stirring constantly, until broth has been absorbed. Continue adding broth in 1/2 cup portions, stirring and cooking until each portion has been absorbed.
When the risotto is just tender (about 25 to 30 minutes), add the squash-mushroom-garlic mixture back to the rice and stir in the herbs. Add more broth or water as needed to make a creamy texture. Cover and cook on low for 15 minutes. Just before serving, gently stir in the peas and Parmesan soy – vegan “cheese.”
Serves 6 to 8.