Thursday, October 9, 2008

Thyme Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto

It's Barefoot Thursday and I'm going to save you a buttery bundle....
It's not unusual for the Quiet Man to phone me from the grocery store. This is what happens after ten years of training/marriage. A husband must learn that this particular errand can be the cause of great disappointment, say when the Italian parsley is brought home instead of the cilantro, or that despite his best detective efforts there really is such thing as panko (Asian aisle-bottom left corner, dear), or when 12 heads come home when the list simply said "garlic." But this time, Quiet Man had found the Arborio rice as listed, but was calling home to make sure that at $9.00 for a mere 10 ounces if I really wanted it. My alter ego is taking over, and I didn't want to let Prudy down so I asked him to put the rice back. I've made risotto plenty of times, but not since rice prices have skyrocketed. I hopped onto the Internet to research a possible replacement and was pleased to find that renowned cookbook author Marion Cunningham claimed that a very good risotto was possible with American medium short grain rice. I don't want to upset my fellow Italians, but after giving it a go, I happily concur. My frugal risotto was creamy and toothsome. At less than 1/10th the price of Arborio, we'll be having penny risotto a lot more often. And the Quiet Man won't even have to call me from the market. Although he certainly can. Any time.
I made some considerable adjustments to this recipe. Since I've got several vegetarians in my extended family and I thought this might make a great Thanksgiving side sans meat, I tested mine with vegetable broth and no prosciutto. Saffron was skipped in the interest of remaining solvent, and so I swapped in some thyme for flavor. Also, as always, I couldn't justify the heaping 8 tablespoons of fat-maybe for Thanksgiving, but certainly not for weeknight dinner. To keep the dish extra creamy, I drizzled a bit of half and half on the finished servings.
Money Saving Tips: Using medium grain rice instead of Arborio is going to save you a bundle of cash. If you've got a great source for cheap saffron, by all means, add some. I'm going to pick some up in Europe next month. For now, I used dried thyme.
Thyme Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto
Estimated Cost: $4.00 for 3 large servings
Notes: I served this for dinner with Italian sausage and a simple mixed green salad.
1/2 butternut squash (about 1 lb.), peeled and cut into 3/4 inch pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
3 and 1/2 cups vegetable broth (I used Swanson's)
1 tablespoon butter
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup medium grain rice
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
a couple tablespoons of half and half, for drizzling, if desired
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line cookie sheet with foil. Place squash on foil. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with thyme and a bit of salt and pepper. Roast for 25-30 minutes, or until tender. Meanwhile, warm vegetable stock in small saucepan in a small saucepan. Keep it at a simmer while you make the risotto. In a medium skillet, melt butter. Add onion and garlic and saute on medium for 10 minutes. Stir in the rice and 1 cup of broth. Stir occasionally and simmer until broth is absorbed. Continue to stir in broth, 1/2 cup full at a time, as it is absorbed until the rice is cooked through but still has some bite. This should take between 20 and 25 minutes. Don't let it get mushy. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the squash and parmesan, saving a little of both for garnish. Serve with a little drizzle of half and half, if desired.
Coming Tomorrow:
Italian Dinner for Columbus Day
Roasted Tomato, Sausage, and Three Cheese Pizza

69 comments:

Cynthia's Blog said...

Smiths had a great big container for only around 5 dollars. It was on sale. You had success with this! Next I make risotto, it will be on my terms. I have a hard time veering from the original recipe, my brain says how do you know if you like the recipe if you don't make it as it was intended?

Dee said...

Your risotto turned out gorgeous. Thank you for the tip about using short grained rice instead. I'm going to try my next risotto with some Malaysian rice. Wish me luck!

By the way, how do I subscribe to your posts? Yes, I'm that much of an idiot.

Girl Japan said...

Butternut squash is fabulous but with Risotto that is ingenious. Oh goodness it looks awfully yummy, warming to the tummy...

Debinhawaii said...

Nice job with your modifications--it certainly looks delicious! I bet the thyme was wonderful in it!

The Blonde Duck said...

Now that's a risotto I can make! It looks delicious. I wish I had grocery stores like ya'll do. Mine has beans, rice and tamale mix. Guess that's what you get living in South Texas...I'm constantly calling up my mom and asking her to pick me up stuff in Austin!

VeggieGirl said...

LOOOOOVE this risotto recipe!!! Love your substitutions, especially - yum!!!

Andrea said...

We made some similar changes and I was so happy with the vegetarian results! How nice of you to come up with it for a Thanksgiving side for your family! I bet the thyme was great in this. I had no idea you could use anything other than arborio rice, I thought at one point you could substitute orzo but then read that that's a big no no. Great informative post, as usual :)

Candy said...

I used short grain, too. But I went full out with the saffron and butter! If I make it again I'll try your subsitutions. This was a delicious dish.

gigi said...

That is so funny that Quiet Man called home to check with you, smart man! He knows that alter ego of your's is so prudent! Or in other words, he's trained properly. I think that you are so accommodating with your vegetarian family and friends. I love pleasing everyone especially from the kitchen.

This recipe sounds so delicious and I love the changes you made. I love squash any way any how. I'll hit the farmers market this morning while southern man is at P/T.

I sent your little charges a small box of roadside items from Georgia. Not roadkill but roadside :) I mailed it yesterday so maybe Saturday?

Audrey said...

What a great idea to use thyme (my favorite herb) and I love the idea of tryingt he short grain rice. But I've been lucky enough to find an Amerian brand of arborio that isn't too expensive (about $6 for 36 ounces) and makes me feel so Italian. I guess that offsets the saffron indulgence a little! Was't the squash good in this?
Audrey

chocolatechic said...

8-o

You can use regular rice instead of risotto rice.....crap...crap...crap...wish I had know that.

PS. Yours looks great.

1215656559s20768 said...

I don't know if you have salvage grocery stores there or if you would even shop at one, but I have found that I can find some of the more expensive grocery items there dirt cheap. In fact, I can't even get arborio rice in my regular grocery store, but I can sometimes find it at salvage stores.

I do love the idea of using regular rice in risotto. Great idea!

Aggie said...

Great looking risotto Prudy! My husband must call me a dozen times each time I send him to the grocery store...(I think he's scared of me)...

Megan said...

I made almost all the same substitutions you did - no pancetta, vegetable broth, no saffron and no half and half. Hmm. Maybe I am related to you after all!!

Katherine Aucoin said...

Your risotta looks so elegant and savory. It's good to know that short grain rice is an equal sub.

Natashya said...

Great tips for money saving. We were lucky and found a good price on arborio rice but I have been known to sub calrose for sushi rice in the interest of meeting my mortgage payments.
Your risotto looks lovely, I am a big fan of thyme.

Mary said...

This looks awfully good. Thanks for the tips and swap outs.

Prudy said...

Megan:
Thanks for stopping by! I'd love to check out your risotto but I wasn't able to get to your blog. Where are you?

Peggy said...

Oh thyme was a great idea! I subbed ginger which gave it a little zing. Yours looks so wonderful. The presentation is great!

Mary Ann said...

Delicious alterations to this most delicious dish. I had the same thoughts about serving this for Thanksgiving on the side, but I think I would want it and nothing else, so I am not sure if I am going to be nice enough to share this with everyone. Looks lovely. maybe next time I will try it will thyme!

Jodie said...

Looks great!I got my Arborio at Trader Joe's for $2.99 for a big box. TJ's came through for me in multiple ways on this recipe! Great idea on the subs. I, too, was not willing to put in the saffron! Very un-pennywise!

Emily Rose said...

great tip on the rice- there is no way I could justify spending $9.00 on rice!!

Cathy said...

Prudy, I can sit and listen to husband/wife grocery stories all day long. It is such a large part of my life (sending hubs to grocery, gently telling him that he got the wrong thing, sending hubs back to grocery, directing him at grocery via phone and email) that I just sit captivated when I hear others tell similar tales! So glad that Quiet Man thought to check in before buying $10 risotto! The medium short grained rice sounds like (and looks like!) a fabulous substitute, and one that I will try as soon as my risotto is gone. Somehow I found saffron for $3.49 -- did I luck out, or did I get duped and buy a tiny little thing of it that won't even last through three recipes? In any event, glad that you loved this too -- I thought that it was spectacular!

Janssen said...

I'm so glad to hear about the rice swap. . . I can't find arborio rice at my grocery store anymore.

Kelly said...

You know I have never ever had Risotto...
I feel like I am totally missing out..
After watching Hell's Kitchen..I was afraid to make it..hahaha

anudivya said...

It looks great. A treat for vegetarians like me. I have never cooked risotto before. Being from India, I get a lot of rice into my system as it is... now the risotto!

RecipeGirl said...

Looks yummmmmy! The rice looks as if it was a fine replacement.

I had to laugh at your 'hubby at the store' comments. My husband and I have the same thing going on... phone calls to clarify exactly what I'm asking him to buy, etc. They're good guys for putting forth the effort, I must say!

Marjie said...

Nice change to a classic dish! And I'm with you. $16 per pound or thereabouts for rice is outrageous! You're lucky that Quiet Man goes to the store for you; my dearly beloved is frightened of supermarkets!

Veronica said...

I really like the thyme addition-I'll bet that was really tasty!

Laura said...

Your risotto looks mahvelous! I had to laugh at your Hubby's trials with the shopping list (mine is the same way, completely out of his element - sort of like me at Ace hardware).

And thanks for the tip about the American short grain - when I finally find the time to make this properly, I'm going with that!

Maria said...

I am glad you made this a veggie version! I will have to try it with this rice! Great savings tip!

Allie said...

I like the changes you made it looks scrumptious!

jenjen said...

That's good to know about the rice. My hubby LOVES risoto. Whenever we go out to eat that's what he wants! Yours looks wonderful! Are you writing a cookbook? If so, put me at the head of the line to buy it! I love your recipes!

Catherine said...

My goodness you're popular! This recipe looks great! I actually have some arborio sitting in my cupboard. So I'll have to try this! And when I run out I'll definitely be using the rice!

hot garlic said...

Okay, okay, I'm here. Actually, I'm not, we're out of town. And I SWORE I wasn't going to blog on vacay... but I also SWORE I was going to get my last post done yesterday before we left. I finally got it up, thanks for stroking my ego that you needed me sooner.

Okay, this looks great and how good are you, you little money saving vixen. Quiet Man sounds a lot like Ben, and we've had similar foibles in our training as well. Ben and I always laugh about 'Baby wanted 12, Baby wanted 12 lemons' from The Break-up.

GREAT idea for Thanksgiving sidedish. Good thinking. Okay, I'll be back later for pretzels and whatever else I've missed, it is OBSCENELY late.

Sara said...

Looks great Prudy!!! I've got some butternut squash just about ready in my garden. I will definitely give this a try. thanks for the penny saving tips!

Ali said...

oh my. This looks amazing! I have never actually tried risotto and have always wanted to. This will be the recipe to do that! I can't wait. Thanks!

Tanya said...

Looks great! If the short grain rice works, then that's awesome. I also omitted the saffron because it's too expensive for me.

Peter M said...

A wonderful classic, Prudy and I didn't shut off the music this time...it looks that good!

bakingwiththeboys said...

Thyme would have been a great addition. I, too, in the interest of solvency left out the saffron. And, Ina, gets a little nuts with the fats. We loved without 387 tablespoons of butter.

Emiline said...

There's no way I would have paid $9 for arborio rice. I'm surprised that ours is so much cheaper. It's around $2-$3.

And a stick of butter seems indulgent. Not necessary when you have such a flavorful dish.

Beth said...

I know what you mean about saffron. I bought a small jar and it set me back nearly £4 - must be about $7-8 or so. Anyway I love risotto and squash so I would love this for sure

1freshstart said...

Sweet! I had no idea you could use medium-grain rice instead! That's awesome!
~Cat

Yasmeen said...

Good money saving tips:)
I eat rice almost every day, roasted Squash combo with rice sounds delicious.

Pam said...

This risotto looks wonderful Prudy. I still have never made risotto but I think it's time to finally try. Great recipe.

Dawn said...

No kidding....short grain rice is ok in this? Wow.
I must experiment for myself then.
Great tip my dear.

Melanie Anne said...

This looks amazing!! I can't wait to give it a try!!

Clumbsy Cookie said...

Good call Quiet Man! Oh yes, Arborio is a bit on the pricey side, but you did great een without it, cause you're the best! Italians won't mind, I'm sure!

chou said...

I love butternut. And your suggestion to use medium grain.

temparoo said...

Prudence,

I love your blog. Can I use your blog as the official sponsor of the 2nd part of the Stephenie Meyer (author of Twilight) Prom interview on my blog. Oh yeah the turkey soup was wonderful!

Bridgett said...

I am loving all of these risotto post today as they all looks gorgeous, yours included. Yours looks especially inviting, just in a bowl all by itself waiting to be devoured. Love it!

Patsyk said...

Your risotto looks wonderful. It's one of my favorite dishes, only I make mine in the pressure cooker.

Bellini Valli said...

I think the risotto turned out perfectly in flavour, colour and texture......I will definitely be making it again.

Heather B said...

Great changes! That's good to know about the rice! I went ahead and bought the Arborio!

Satisfying my Sweet Tooth said...

All of your risottos look SO good! I love the idea of using squash in it and I can't wait to make it!

Shandy said...

What awesome ideas! The rice switch. . .brilliant. The cutting out fat but adding half-n-half at the end, also brilliant. The dish looks delicious! So does your picture of it. I am not a squash person but this even I would try =D.

Coby said...

That's a delicious looking risotto Prudy:) I have to say, I have a similar man - things like bone-in vs fillets of meat or sticks of celery vs a whole celery, yes we've been there done that;)

Marie said...

That risotto looks gorgeous Erin!!! I could just slurp it up! You can't beat Ina Garten!

Suzie said...

You are always such an inspiration - great idea on the rice - and now I have a bit of a tip for you. If you stir the risotto a bit after it has finished cooking, the rice will release more starch, and become creamier, so you may not even need the half and half!

Meryl said...

We've used plain rice as a sub here in the past too. I think there's a little difference, but, you're right, it's not much.

Jimi said...

Thanks for commenting on my blog. I loved reading yours! I think I'll feel more freedom to substitute ingredients next time. Your dish looks fantastic.

Now, I have a large container of (expensive) Arborio rice to use!

Summer said...

Looks delicious! The thyme must have been yummy.

Esi said...

I almost added thyme to my risotto as well, but held off at the last minute. Looks great!

Kevin said...

Butternut squash risotto is one of my favorite risottos. The sweet squash goes so well in the creamy and cheesy risottos. Add a few herbs and it becomes magical.

Eri-chan said...

Wow, yours looks great. Thats a really neat tip to use American medium-grained rice - I've been thinking about experimenting with farro in risotto as well, but that doesn't really solve the cost problem...

And btw, I love the music :)

Lael said...

your recipes remind me that cutting back on that "must have" item or replacing an expensive, delicious item with a lesser expensive, equally delicious ingredient can still produce something just as pleasing. (Forgive me for having to state the obvious.)
Sometimes I just get so caught up in "needing" those exotic mushrooms or that specialty honey. It's so not true. For my stomach, my soul, or my budget.
I love your blog!

Matt said...

The original recipe's suggestion of prosciutto and sis tablespoons of butter made it extremely rich. It could have easily done with much less fat, so your adaptation is perfect.

If you're looking for reasonably priced Arborio or Carnaroli rice in the future, try Whole Foods. I bought a 2 lb 2.3 oz box for a little less than $5.00 if I remember correctly.

I'll definitely be trying regular rice in the future. I've heard from several people that it works just as well. Your photos bear this out!

CECIL said...

Oh! That's just hilarious - I have given up on asking husband to go grocery store to pick up things. He actually does not mind going, but always come home with everything EXCEPT things on the list!

This risotto sounds just perfect for Fall menu!

Christine Medifast said...

I have been one known to send my husband to the grocery store and he finds himself lost in the many aisles. It is amusing to me, especially since I have the aisles memorized.

It is amazing how expensive rice has gotten over the years. I had a similar recipe that involved the overly expensive choice of rice and my husband couldn't believe I bought it. I couldn't find a good substitute so I sucked it up and went ahead with the purchase.

Glad to see someone out there is willing to research more then me. This looks delicious. I haven't used squash in a recipe like this and may have too. Squash is one of my favorite things to eat so I am always going to be willing to try something new with it.

Thanks for sharing this... now hopefully the ingredients of this recipe are not too hard for my husband. *hehe*

Christine M.