Sunday, February 23, 2014

Butternut Squash and Kale Oven Risotto

I have been trying to incorporate more meatless meals into my weekly dinner planning, and this oven risotto was a great addition.  Packed full of vegetables, it makes for a filling meal that was pretty easy to prepare.  Cooking the dish in the oven eliminates the time spent standing at the stove, slowly adding in liquid to the rice, and stirring incessantly, which was a welcomed change.  It also allowed me to spend more time sitting and watching the Olympics.  Anyone else totally obsessed with the Winter Olympics?  I just love it.  I can't believe they are almost over. 

Even more, I can't believe that 4 years ago we were experiencing the Olympics first-hand.  Amazing experience.  Here's us at the luge.

Ok, back to the dish.  This Christmas, I had received my first vegetarian cookbook, and I was anxious to give some of the recipes a try. This recipe for an oven risotto immediately stood out, so I decided to give it a try, and it turned out to be...a total failure.  To be more specific, it was big pile of mush that ended up in the garbage.  But I was not going to give up so easy, so I made a few tweaks to the recipe and tried again.  This time it turned out much better.  

I think a big part of my problem the first time around may have been my use of frozen butternut squash rather than fresh.  I did this on the second time as well but made some adjustments to account for the cooking time on the bag. Honestly, I really just don't like peeling and cutting butternut squash, so I was determined to make my little short-cut work.  Also, even though the original recipe was vegetarian, my version wasn't quite there as I used chicken broth in the recipe because that is what I had in the house.  

Overall, this was a very filling, nutritious meal that will make it on my regular rotation.  It doesn't have the creamy texture of risotto prepared in the traditional way, but I thought it was still very good and significantly less work.  Another plus is that I think the recipe can be easily modified to include different vegetables if you are not a butternut squash and/or kale fan.  The possibilities are endless!  

Butternut Squash and Kale Oven Risotto
Recipe adapted from Meatless: More Than 200 of the Very Best Vegetarian Recipes
Serves 4-6

2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
2 Shallots, diced
4 Garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp Dried thyme
1/2 tsp Dried oregano
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
2 tsp Salt
Ground pepper
1/2 cup Dry white wine
3 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 bunch black (Tuscan) or curly kale, stems removed, cut into strips
2 lbs Frozen butternut squash
1/2 cup Grated Parmesan plus additional for serving


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  
  2. In a Dutch oven or other large oven-proof pot, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add the shallots and cook until soft, about 3 minutes.
  3. Using a garlic press, crush the garlic into the Dutch oven and add the thyme and oregano.  Cook until fragrant.
  4. Add the rice and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add salt and pepper.  
  5. Add the wine to the Dutch oven and allow it to be completely absorbed into the rice while stirring constantly.  
  6. Add the broth and bring the mixture to a boil.  Add the kale and stir to combine.  Place the lid on the Dutch oven and place it in the oven.  Cook for 10 minutes.
  7. After 10 minutes, add the butternut squash and the Parmesan cheese.  Stir to combine.  Return the Dutch oven to the oven and cook for an additional 10-12 minutes, until the butternut squash is tender and warmed through.
  8. Serve immediately sprinkled with additional Parmesan cheese if desired.

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