'Tis the season for squash. I bought some butternut squash to make Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese and had some left over. I have bought frozen butternut squash risotto from Trader Joe's before but since I had some squash left over, I decided to go for it myself. This was absolutely delicious, very rich in flavor and that is why the spicy shrimp is a perfect contrast companion. This is a great meal to impress others with.
1 cup butternut squash, peeled and seeded, then cut into cubes (about 1/2 of a smaller butternut squash)
1 Tbsp olive oil for squash + 1 Tbsp for risotto, divided
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 lbs raw peeled and deveined shrimp -- extra large size
1 Tbsp olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/3 cup white onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp saffron threads (optional)
1 cup arborio rice
5-6 cups chicken stock/white wine (I used 1-2 cups white wine and the rest broth)
2 heaping Tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese
finely chopped chives for garnish (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Toss the cubed butternut squash in a bowl with the tablespoon of olive oil and some salt and pepper to taste. Layer out on a baking sheet and roast in oven until tender, about 20-25 minutes. Mash. Set aside. This can be done even a day in advance.
2. While the butternut squash roasts, prep your shrimp. Wash the shrimp well and pat dry well with a paper towel. Place in bowl and add the olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, the cayenne and smoked paprika and toss to coat evenly with the seasonings. Set aside. This can be done a day in advance, but note the shrimp will taste spicier the longer they sit in the seasonings.
3. Place all of the broth in a saucepan and warm up to a low simmer. Once simmering, cover with lid so it doesn't evaporate and keep the flame on very low. (You need to use hot broth when making risotto, so don't plan to use room temperature or cold at all for this.)
4. To make the risotto, add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to a large saute pan or pot and the butter. Once butter has melted, add the onion and season with a small pinch of salt. The salt helps the onions caramelize. Cook about 10 minutes on medium-low heat stirring occasionally until onions are well softened and begin to turn a caramel color. Add the garlic and cook another minute.
5. Once the rice is al-dente you'll notice it's also gotten considerably thicker and has a creamy texture to it. Don't cook it to the point where the liquid is 100% absorbed; you want to keep a little moisture there because the cheese when you add it will soak it up and you don't want the risotto to be too "hard." Quickly turn off the heat, add the butternut squash to the risotto and combine well. Once butternut squash is incorporated, gently fold in the Parmesan cheese. Add some of the chives, reserving some for garnish at the end. Set aside and quickly cook the shrimp.
6. Heat a nonstick pan to high. Dump the shrimp in the pan and cook about 1 minute on each side, or until shrimp is cooked through -- turns opaque in the white parts and bright orange/pink and is firm to the touch.
7. Serve risotto warm and top with cooked shrimp. Enjoy!
Recipe adapted from: The Enchanted Spoon