Butternut Squash Risotto with Walnuts and Soy Caramel

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We love hearing from Judi and Nicole, because they always dream up such classic yet decadent dishes. This risotto, which is starchy, salty, fatty, and sweet, heralds the arrival of cozy bowls and simmering stove tops – enjoy! – Amy

As I write, a dear friend is packing up her whole life here in Portland and moving to Virginia; Nicole is packing up her whole life in Chicago and moving to Pennsylvania. These are not just moves– both of them are going home. I was going to wax poetic about the difference between “going” and “going home” but my words would be pretty hollow- I left home at 20 and have moved many times since then; but my home state, New York, was never one of them.

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I love change. (You thought I was going to say something else, right? It seems like the only people who ever talk about change are disparaging of it.) Don’t get me wrong, I’ll miss my friend when she leaves (let’s not talk about it too much, okay?) but there is, also, a tiny silvery thread of envy shooting through me. New homes, new streets, new sidewalks. New, new, new. It has its own electrical charge to it, that word.

The season’s shift from summer to fall will have to suffice for me, snuggled and content here in Maine. Bring on the dark mornings, the shivering shoulders not yet used to the chilled air, the thick socks, and the warmth from the stove as risotto bubbles.

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There are all these quick fixes for risotto these days- make it in the oven! Pop a lid on it! No stirring required! Get your life back! Like change, I may be in the minority when I say I don’t mind all the stirring, the vigilance over the stove, that risotto requires. There are few things that make me feel more like a cook than the act of stirring with a wooden spoon in my hand. And this risotto is perfect for how I’m feeling right now- it’s full of fall’s deep colors, the technique is practiced and traditional, the flavors are different, new and yet still homey. Home.

Good food is funny that way, isn’t it? Without realizing it, it can carry you home. No packing required.

We think the caramel sauce featured in this risotto, which gets a salty kick from a splash of soy sauce, would make a great gift. Nicole, queen of props, took some time out of her packing to pick a few of her favorite jar options. #foodgiftlove

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1. Weck 18-Ounce Canning Jars

2. Ball Half Pint (8-oz.) Quilted Crystal Jelly Jars

3. Hermetic Glass Storage Jars

4. Kerr 8-Ounce Wide Mouth Canning Jars

5. Weck 1/2-Liter Glass Jars

6. 4-Ounce Canning Jars

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Butternut Squash Risotto with Walnuts & Soy Caramel

Source: adapted from thepioneerwoman.com

Makes: 8 servings

Ingredients:

For the Soy Caramel
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
For the Risotto
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, separated
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 6 cups (approximately) low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 1/2 cup Arborio rice
  • 1/8 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream (less if desired)
  • 1/2 cup parmesan, shaved, plus more to serve
  • Coarsely chopped walnuts, to serve

Directions:

For the Soy Caramel
  1. Add the sugar to a heavy bottom sauce pan and spread evenly across the bottom. Heat on medium heat, when you see that a layer of the sugar has melted on the bottom, mix the melted sugar with the unmelted sugar with a heatproof spatula. Continue pushing the sugar around until it’s completely melted and a medium-amber color.
  2. Remove from heat and carefully, slowly add the cream. If clumps form, return to medium heat until the mixture is melted.
  3. Pour caramel into a bowl and let cool slightly (while you make the risotto). Then add a pinch of sea salt and soy sauce, mix well.
For the Risotto
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon butter and olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add squash and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and chili powder. Cook for several minutes, turning gently with a spatula, until squash is deep golden brown and tender (but not falling apart.) Remove to a plate and set aside.
  2. Heat broth in a saucepan over low heat. Keep warm.
  3. Add 2 tablespoons butter to the same skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until translucent. Add Arborio rice and stir, cooking for 1 minute.
  4. Reduce heat to low. In 1-cup increments, begin adding broth to the skillet, stirring to combine and gently stirring as the broth is absorbed. As soon as the liquid disappears, add in another cup to 1 1/2 cups of broth. Continue this process, stirring gently as the broth incorporates and the rice starts to become tender. Add salt and pepper along the way.
  5. Taste the rice after about 5 cups of broth have been absorbed and see what the consistency is. Add another 1 to 2 cups of broth as needed to get the rice to the right consistency: it should be tender with just a little bit of "bite" left to it.
  6. When the rice is tender, add in the cooked squash and turmeric and stir it in gently. Add the cream and parmesan and stir until just combined. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if needed.
  7. Sprinkle chopped walnuts over the top and lightly drizzle with soy caramel, to taste. Serve immediately.
Photos taken and styled by Nicole Ziegler.

Eat Boutique was an award-winning shop and story-driven recipe site created by Maggie Battista – an author, business guide and alignment seeker. After hosting retail markets for 25,000+ guests, Maggie now supports entrepreneurs as they create values-based businesses through We Are Magic StudioFollow Maggie Battista on Instagram.

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