winter risotto

this risotto is full of warming seasonal flavors! creamy roasted butternut squash, sweet roasted chestnuts and savory sage folded into a slow-cooking rice risotto. delicious! risotto is fairly simple to make, but does require constant attention as you prep and cook (about 80 minutes or so). risotto is well worth the work and makes for lovely left overs too!

butternut squash & chestnut risotto:
1 1/2 cups risotto rice (arborio rice)
3 cups vegetable stock
1/2 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
1 small onion, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
4 ounces peeled and halved chestnuts (i used pre-cooked, vacuum packed chestnuts)
small bunch fresh sage
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pats of butter (optional)
1/4 teaspoon chili flakes
1 teaspoon coriander
salt & pepper
1/4 cup parmesan, finely grated (optional)
parsley, chopped for garnish

preheat oven to 400 degrees. in the mean time, prep and dice all your vegetables. combine the cubed squash with one tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with chili flakes and ground coriander and spread the squash out in a single layer in a roasting pan. bake up to 30 minutes until fork tender.
while the squash is roasting, heat 1 tablespoon oil and a pat of butter in a large skillet and sautee the onions, celery and garlic for 10 minutes at a low heat. try to avoid browning the vegetables. at the same time, heat 3 cups of broth on the stove top, letting it sit at a simmer. after 10 minutes of cooking the vegetables, add the dry rice and turn up the heat. fry the rice with the vegetables for about one minute until the rice becomes translucent. add a ladleful (1/2 cup) of broth to the rice and vegetable mixture. continue cooking at a low temperature, uncovered, until the liquid is absorbed. continue to add a ladleful at a time, giving the rice time to absorb. depending on your patience level you may find that you use less or more liquid... just continue to cook until the rice is tender but still has a bit of a bite to it.
check the squash! once it is fork tender, add the chestnuts to the roasting pan and return to the oven for about 5-10 minutes until the squash is very soft and creamy and the chestnuts are heated through. remove the squash and nuts from the oven and let sit until the risotto rice is finished. season the rice to taste.
finally, combine the squash and chestnuts in with the risotto. add a handful of torn sage leaves, an extra pat of butter and parmesan cheese. fold all together and then let sit, covered for 2 minutes off of the heat. if you really want to please your palate, in small fry pan heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and fry a few extra sage leaves. once crisp, remove from oil and let sit on a paper towel. crumbled on top of the risotto, the little crisp leaves are absolutely exceptional!

i was able to fit in a tray of roasted brussel sprouts in the oven while the squash was roasting - the timing worked out just perfectly. pile your risotto high with parsley and fried sage and enjoy!