Don't be put off by the vanilla bean in this recipe excerpted from Giada's Kitchen; Butternut Squash and Vanilla Risotto is actually a savory dish. Instead of adding sweetness, the vanilla imparts a lovely, fragrant note. Flavored with white wine and a generous amount of Parmesan cheese, this dish would make an elegant fall dinner party entrée or side dish.
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- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1 large vanilla bean
- 3 cups butternut squash cut into 1-inch squares (about 12 ounces)
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup finely chopped onion (from 1 onion)
- 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice or medium-grain white rice
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
In a medium saucepan, warm the broth over medium-high heat. Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds and add them and the bean to the broth. When the broth comes to a simmer, reduce the heat to low. Add the butternut squash to the simmering broth and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked squash to a side dish. Turn the heat on the broth down to very low and cover to keep warm.
Meanwhile, in a large, heavy saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until tender but not brown, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat with the butter. Add the wine and simmer until the wine has almost completely evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the simmering broth and stir until almost completely absorbed, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking the rice, adding the broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing each addition of broth to absorb before adding the next, until the rice is tender but still firm to the bite and the mixture is creamy, about 20 minutes total. Discard the vanilla bean.
Turn off the heat under the risotto (and the remaining broth, if any). Gently stir in the butternut squash, Parmesan cheese, the remaining tablespoon of butter, and the salt. Transfer the risotto to a serving bowl and sprinkle with the chives. Serve immediately.