But back to the risotto. Risotto, like omelets, is a great way to use up a bunch of random ingredients that would otherwise either (a) stare each other down on the plate and refuse to shake hands, or (b) rot in the fridge. Funny thing, though; just add some creamy rice doped up on homemade chicken stock and a few chunks of melted Pecorino cheese -- not the Romano kind, which according to Marcella Hazan is too salty for the amazing Sicilian pesto I made the other night and thus had on hand -- and voilå! You're in Yumville!
Butternut Squash and Spinach Risotto
Serves 2. (Maybe 3 if you eat like birds. Baby birds.)
4+ cups chicken stock
1 TBSP olive oil (or butter)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 shallot, diced
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
1 lb. butternut squash, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 cups fresh raw spinach
1 TBSP fresh sage leaves, minced
1/4 cup Pecorino cheese, grated
salt and pepper to taste
In a small pot on the back burner, heat chicken stock to a medium boil. In a large soup pot (on the front burner, duh!) heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and shallot and sauté until shallot is soft, about 5 minutes. Add rice, stirring with a wooden spoon to coat the grains with oil. Add white wine and simmer until it is absorbed, about 3 minutes. Begin adding chicken stock, one cup at the time, and stir constantly (or nearly so; I admit I'm a bit lazy and it doesn't seem to matter as long as you don't let the rice stick and burn). As the stock is absorbed, add another cup of stock and stir; continue doing so until the the rice is cooked al dente, soft but still a wee bit firm. (If you run out of stock, don't freak out -- just heat up a bit of water and use that.) This usually takes about 4 cups of liquid and 20-30 minutes. Meanwhile, back at the ranch...in a microwave-safe dish, nuke a few tablespoons of stock and the squash until tender and cooked through, 8 - 10 minutes. Once the rice is done, fold in the squash, spinach, sage, cheese and salt and pepper (and if you want to be really decadent, throw in a knob of butter, too). Serve immediately.