Monday, February 6, 2012

Butternut Squash, Chard and Leek Risotto

It was a dark and stormy night...the perfect weather for a warm, hearty meal! Okay, so it wasn't actually stormy, but it was dark and it was cold outside. In deciding what to make for dinner, I looked in my fridge and around my kitchen and thanks to my CSA I had squash, chard and leeks (among other things). After scouring the internet for inspiration on how to use these three ingredients, I came across some ideas for dinner, and ended up with this risotto. With a few minor tweaks, it could easily be made vegetarian or even vegan. It can be a stand-alone dish, or you could serve it with a side salad. Like most risotto recipes, this makes a LOT of food, and we all know I'm a huge fan of leftovers!
A hearty serving of risotto.
Besides being delicious, this recipe provides you with a lot of helpful vitamins and nutrients too! Check it out:
Butternut Squash: Low in calories, high in fiber, has TONS of Vitamin A (used by the body to repair skin and mucus membranes, and essential for good vision), Vitaminc C, is rich in many B-complex vitamins (folate, riboflavin, niacin, thiamine, and pantothenic acid), and it contains essential minerals. It's a bonus if you eat the seeds, as these have vitamins and minerals too, as well as the essential amino acid Tryptophan (this converts to GABA in the brain, which can help to stabilize moods).
Chard: A dark leafy green high in anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory agents, Vitamin K (needed for calcium absorption), calcium, and may help regulate blood sugar.
Leeks: An Allium vegetable (like it's cousins garlic and onion), supports our cardiovascular system, folate, manganese, iron, flavonoids, and antioxidant polyphenols.
Butter: Yes, butter is actually good for you if it comes from organic, pasture-raised cows. It contains the fat-soluble vitamins A, E, K and D, and also selenium and iodine (needed by our thyroid). It contains fatty acids that boost our immune system and are easily broken down for energy and not stored as fat. Butter does have cholesterol, but did you know our bodies require cholesterol for intestinal, brain and nervous systems?

But anyway, on to the recipe...

Butternut Squash, Chard and Leek Risotto (serves 4-8)
1 Butternut Squash - peeled, seeded and diced
3T Olive Oil
2 Leeks - sliced thin
2 Cloves Garlic - chopped
1 Bunch of Chard - remove stems
4C Chicken or Vegetable Broth, plus 1C Water
4T Organic Butter
2C Arborio Rice - rinsed
1 1/2C Dry White Wine
3/4C Parmesan Cheese - freshly grated
1/4t Nutmeg
2T Fresh Sage - minced
Toasted Pine Nuts as garnish

- In a large skillet or heavy-bottomed soup pot, heat 2T oil over medium heat. Add Squash and cook until soft, about ten minutes.
- In a separate saucepan, bring the Broth to a simmer, then keep warm over very low heat.
- When Squash is done, put it in a bowl and set aside for now.
- In the same (hot) pan over medium heat, add 1T Oil and coat the bottom. Add the Chard and cover. Let the chard steam for a couple of minutes, then uncover and continue to cook until the chard is wilted. When done, put chard into a strainer.
- After removing the chard, into the same pan put 3T of butter. Melt completely, then add the Leeks and Garlic. Also add some Salt and Pepper to taste. Saute, stirring frequently, until leeks are softened.
- Add the Arborio Rice to the pan, and stir until rice is translucent. This should only be a few minutes.
- Add the Wine, and continue to stir until all liquid has been absorbed.
- When all wine has been absorbed, add 3C of Broth and the squash and stir to combine.
- Let the mixture simmer, and stir every few minutes. When the bottom begins to get sticky, add more broth a half cup at a time, stir and simmer. Continue like this until the rice is al dente.
- When the rice is done, turn off the heat and add: 1T Butter, Parmesan, Nutmeg and Sage. Stir to combine.
- Squeeze any excess liquid out of the chard, and roughly chop. Add to the rice and stir.
- Taste the risotto, and adjust any spices, if necessary.
- Plate the risotto in shallow bowls, and top with freshly toasted Pine Nuts.

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