As I write this post, I will be leaving every couple minutes to stir this risotto, which is happily simmering on my stove this very minute. Lucky us. It smells like a bona fide restaurant in here, I kid you not. Every time I make something by Tyler Florence, as this dish happens to be, it smells like that. The man does not disappoint. His measurements are off sometimes, but if you are a seasoned enough cook, you can remedy them pretty easily. (stir count so far since writing started: 2) But I've already stirred it about 10 times.
I have had a super productive day. So far I have baked 3 cakes (without frosting), done the dishes, 2 loads of laundry, tidied up the house, taken care of my 3 kids, visited with my friend, and now I'm making this stellar dinner. I feel quite accomplished and deserving of my glass of wine. That's the best part about risotto, in my opinion. Most of the (good) recipes call for wine to be added to the rice and it's a perfectly good time to pour yourself a glass, turn the music up and stir, stir, stir, baby! (stir count: 4)
Risotto has a bad rap. Most people think it is labor intensive and in need of babysitting. Both are true, but not bad. You just have to be in or around the kitchen, then add a little liquid and stir every few minutes. It's not hard or bad. It's actually enjoyable and the vegetables roast while the risotto is cooking and honestly it's a cinch to make. It's impressive though with a wonderful wine-y, parmesan-y depth of flavor, so make it when you want to impress. Or for casual Friday night dinner like me. It can go either way. If you make risotto once, you'll make it over and over. (stir count: 6)
Summer Squash Risotto with Parmesan and Sage
adapted from Dinner At My Place by Tyler Florence
serves 4 to 6
4 small summer squash
4 small zucchini
4 pattypan squash
1 large onion, sliced
1/4 bunch fresh thyme sprigs (4 sprigs), leaves only
extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 bunch fresh sage springs, leaves only
1 medium onion
2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 750-mililiter bottle dry white wine
2 quarts vegetable or chicken stock
1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into thirds
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Riggiano cheese
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut squash, zucchini, and pattypan squash into circles and slice onion. Set out on a roasting tray and scatter thyme leaves over the top. Drizzle with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Roast in a preheated oven for 20 minutes, until golden brown and fragrant (It took my veggies about 45-50 minutes to cook through, so the cooking time could vary drastically depending on your oven. If you know your oven runs a bit cooler, like mine, bump the temperature up to 375 degrees and roast until vegetable are tender).
While the vegetables roast, start the risotto. Set a large heavy-based pot over medium heat. Pour a 3-count of oil (about 3 tablespoons) into the pot and fry the sage leaves until they are crispy and crackly. Drain leaves on paper towels and set aside. Add onion to the pot and saute until fragrant and slightly translucent. Add rice and cook for 2-3 minutes over medium heat as you stir with a wooden spoon. Add the wine; cook until mostly evaporated. Begin adding broth, a little at a time, allowing the rice to absorb the broth each time before adding more. Continue to do this until the rice is tender but still has a little bite. (add water if necessary, if you use all the broth before the rice is done.) To finish, add butter and Parmigiano-Riggiano and stir to combine. Serve risotto with roasted vegetables on top.
This recipe adapts well to your preferences. Don't love zucchini? Roast butternut squash, onion and sweet potato with some spinach. Or eggplant and tomato. The possibilities are endless. Can't cook with alcohol? First of all I feel SO sorry for you, but just substitute the total amount of wine called for with more vegetable or chicken broth. It won't be AS flavorful, but you'll still rock it. Here's a little tip; you don't have to add the liquid in such small amounts. You can add about a cup at a time which will cut down the cooking time, but you will have to sit and stir the whole time, so I leave you to pick your method.