Monday, August 22, 2011

Liz's Butternut Squash Risotto with a Lake of Pesto

It just so happens that I was the fan favorite in the Iron Chef competition! (For the winning recipe selected by our judges, click here). I will now share my risotto recipe with the world. Pretty much everything I know about risotto I learned from Maxine Clark's Risotto, which I recommend to anyone who wants to euphorically put on 20 pounds. For this recipe, I combined three of hers and made some substitutions of my own. Here we go:

First the pesto:
2 big garlic cloves
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 1/4 cups fresh basil leaves
cup light-tasting olive oil (this makes a more liquified pesto - reduce to 2/3 cup if you prefer a paste)
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
sea salt & pepper, to taste

Throw it all in a blender and give it a whirl.

Now the risotto:

6 cups hot chicken broth (you can also subsitute vegetable broth)
stick unsalted butter
large onion, finely chopped
2 jalapenos, seeded and finely chopped
1 lb. fresh butternut squash, peeled and finely choppped
2 1/3 cups arborio rice
2 cups grated fontina cheese
sea salt & pepper, to taste

Pour the broth into a saucepan and bring it to a gentle simmer. Meanwhile, melt HALF the butter in a large, heavy saucepan and add the chopped onion. Cook gently for 10 minutes until soft, golden and translucent but not browned. Stir in the chopped jalapenos and cook for 1 minute. Add the chopped squash and cook, stirring constantly for 5 minutes until it begins to soften slightly. Stir in the rice to coat with the butter and vegetables. Cook for a few minutes to toast the grains.

Begin adding the broth, one large ladle at a time, stirring gently until each ladle has almost been absorbed by the rice. The risotto should be kept at a bare simmer throughout cooking, so don't let the rice dry out - add more broth as necessary. Continue until the rice is tender and creamy, but the grains are still firm and the squash is beginning to disintegrate (This should take about 15-20 minutes).

Taste the rice, season generously with salt & pepper, then stir in the rest of the butter and the fontina until it's all melted. Cover, let rest for a couple of minutes, then serve. If plating individually, float a lake of pesto in the center of each serving.


  1. My grandparents had a summer home on Lake Pesto.

  2. OMG can we go there?? I will paddle the little bruschetta boat.

    -The Bashionista