Doesn’t a big bowl of this risotto sound so perfect on a December morning? No? Just me?
I think we can pull it off. Risotto for breakfast should be a thing.
Risotto is one of my most favorite dishes to make and eat. I find the process soothing, and the creamy rice is just about the most comforting thing EVER. This particular risotto is slightly elevated with some truffle oil, which makes it perfect for Christmas dinner. Or for a regular weeknight dinner. Go all out, friends. I support you.
This risotto is special for a few reasons. One is the aforementioned truffle oil. It adds such an elegant, luscious twist to anything and everything you drizzle it over, and even though it’s an investment, one bottle will last you FOREVER. You only need a little bit each time to impart that special flavor. It is an unmistakable, irreplaceable addition. Nothing tastes like truffle except truffle.
Another twist on this risotto is that I’m not using arborio rice. I swapped in some heartier (healthier!) farro instead. If you’re a risotto purist, you might be gasping, but trust me. This works. The farro adds a wonderful nuttiness and heft to the dish and still gives that incredible creamy texture.
Dan, who swears he doesn’t like any “brown grains” devoured this. He is not a fan of whole-wheat pasta or bread, brown rice, barley, or anything remotely healthy in the carb department. I told him three days after the fact that he had eaten farro instead of white rice, and he just gaped at me in disbelief. So yeah. The farro definitely works!
The next thing that makes this dish special is the butternut squash. Um, duh. It’s not secret by now that I prefer butternut over pumpkin 98% of the time, and it is an awesome addition to savory dishes like this. Not only does it add some lovely color, but it adds sweetness and flaaaavor. There’s something just…COZY…about butternut squash. I want to eat it in and on everything. FAVE!
I added in some greens to this risotto almost as an afterthought, but I am so glad I did. They sort of tie it all together (well, the greens and the CHEESE do that, I guess), and make things look pretty! After all, there’s nothing less photogenic than some brown grains slowly simmered in broth. Hah.
Lucky for me, the butternut squash and greens glam this dish up enough for its beauty shots all while imparting wonderful flavor and texture to the risotto.
I just love the way this one came out, and I can’t stress how easy risotto really is. I think many people are intimidated by risotto, but really, the process is EASY. You just need to invest some time and patience (I’m short on both, so if I can do it, you definitely can).
A little love goes into this risotto and A LOT comes out.
Just ask my hub. Even good-carbophobes like him will lose their minds over this one.
1 cup farro
6 cups low-sodium chicken or veggie broth
2 cups cubed butternut squash (roughly 1-inch pieces)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 onion, finely diced
4 garlic cloves, grated or pressed
1 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons mascarpone cheese (or cream cheese)
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
2 large handfuls of baby greens
2 teaspoons white truffle oil, or to taste (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Fresh chopped herbs, such as parsley or chives, for serving
Place the farro in a bowl and cover with water. Allow it to soak for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the broth in a medium saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer. Once it is simmering, add in the butternut squash. Simmer the squash for 5-7 minutes or until tender. Using a slotted spoon, remove the squash from the broth and place it in a bowl. Set aside. Keep the broth at a very low simmer.
While you are waiting for the broth to come up to a simmer, place a large skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil and butter. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes or until softened.
Add in the garlic and cook for another minute. Drain the farro well and add it to the pan. Cook, stirring frequently, for a few minutes to toast the farro and dry it out a little bit.
Add in the white wine and cook, stirring frequently, for a few minutes or until it is mostly cooked off.
Season everything with a pinch of salt and pepper. Add about ½ cup of the warm broth to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, until it is almost completely absorbed.
Repeat this process, adding ½ cup of broth at a time and stirring, for about 20-25 minutes. You want the heat to be at a medium-low so that the broth isn’t evaporating too quickly. This part takes a little bit of time and patience. The risotto should be thickened and creamy and all the broth should be incorporated. Season again, to taste, with salt and pepper.
Stir in the mascarpone and parmesan cheeses. Once they are melted and the mixture is creamy, gently stir in the squash and baby greens, stirring until the greens are just wilted.
Just before you are ready to serve, drizzle over the truffle oil, being careful not to add too much, as it is VERY potent. Check the seasonings again and adjust as necessary. Serve immediately with additional grated parmesan and fresh herbs, as desired.