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.
Italian Dinner for Columbus Day
Roasted Tomato, Sausage, and Three Cheese Pizza