Tuesday, February 20

Stir Your Risotto Less, Work Your Glutes More

When we first moved to Southern California, we thought we were in pretty good shape; turns out that “pretty good shape” is a relative phrase. Even the guy bagging our groceries knows his body fat percentage. In fact, the popular gym chain, 24 Hour Fitness (yes, they are open 24 hours a day), originated here. That pretty much says it all.

After a killer leg workout at the gym this past Sunday, we wanted to treat ourselves to a mega-carb meal. Since I had a butternut squash saved and had just purchased some fresh rosemary, I decided to make butternut squash risotto.

I prefer fresh rosemary to dried because its soft needles are much more redolent and its flavor is brighter. In this butternut squash risotto, it heightens the flavor of the squash and balances the pungent blue cheese.

I know some people don’t make risotto because it takes too long and the continuous stirring is tedious. Well, I’ll let you in on a secret: I’ve been making risotto for years, and I don’t stir it continuously. Malto Mario would be disappointed, I’m sure. But it never seemed to make any significant difference to me. And now Jamie Oliver (in Jamie’s Italy) has vindicated us non-stirrers, saying he stirs only intermittently as well.

True, making risotto is not a 10-minute meal. But trust me, it’s worth the work (and a few extra reps on the leg press).

I have submitted this recipe to Anna of Anna's Cool Finds who is hosting this week's Weekend Herb Blogging.

Butternut Squash Risotto with Rosemary, Walnuts, and Blue Cheese
Print recipe only here.

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon butter
1 shallot, diced
1 cup butternut squash, roasted
2 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth (or as much as needed)
½ cup Arborio rice
¼ cup half n' half or milk
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1/8 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1-2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
1/8 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste

Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees; place walnuts on a baking sheet in oven for about 10 minutes, until slightly toasted and fragrant.

Bump up the heat to 400 degrees. Slice squash in half, remove seeds, and rub with a little olive oil; roast face-side down for 40-45 minutes or until tender when pierced with a fork. Once the squash is cooked, scoop out the flesh, and mash it by hand. It will be added to the cooked risotto later.

Meanwhile, heat broth in a saucepan over medium heat, then lower to a simmer.

For the risotto: In a large metal skillet, saute the shallots in olive oil and butter. Add the Arborio rice; toast for about 1 minute. Cook the risotto at a slow simmer, adding heated broth ½ cupful at a time. Stir occasionally, making sure the risotto absorbs the liquid before adding more; just be careful not to let the bottom burn. As it continues to absorb the liquid, it will become tender and creamy. Also, season with some salt as you go along.

I use 2-3 cups of broth for this recipe, but use more or less as needed. It usually takes about 20 minutes for the risotto to become completely cooked; but taste it. It should be wonderfully creamy and thick; it’s best al dente, which means it should still retain some firmness when you chew it. At this point, add the cooked squash, half n'half or milk, ½ the rosemary, and some salt & pepper; stir well.

Remove from heat; stir in Parmesan cheese now, as it will melt more slowly. Add some salt and pepper as needed. Most cookbooks suggest adding 1-2 Tbsp. butter at this point, but it’s optional (and a lot fewer calories without it). Plate your risotto, topping it with crumbled blue cheese, toasted walnuts, and the rest of the chopped fresh rosemary. Eat right away to enjoy its velvety goodness.

Makes 4 portions. (or 2 if it’s after a leg workout)

Saw these pretty pink tulips near my apartment on Sunday and just wanted to share them with you. Spring is coming....

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Anonymous said...

Oh - I might have to reconsider visiting CA - one look at me and I would get the WTF/Body fat looks! But, I would be smiling bright eyed and bushy tailed while eating this fabulous recipe! Squash, walnuts, AND blue cheese...a trio made in heaven.

Anna Haight said...

This looks good enough to eat off the page! I'm sure to try this recipe sometime, but it had better be after my workout at the Sports Club LA (SF)! LA does seem to be the fitness capital! Thanks for participating in WHB.

Anonymous said...

This sounds fabulous. It's the blue cheese that I think would put it right over the top.

I've only just started making risotto this winter and I have stood and stirred non-stop each time. I'll have to give the intermittent stir technique a try.

Rachel said...

yum! although, i must say, i am glad i do not live in LA! So much fitness!

cookiecrumb said...

Aw (weep, weep), thanks for the tulip picture! So sweet.
OK. Susan, you live in California now. You don't have to buy rosemary. You can pinch a sprig off a nearby hedge, or you can grow your own plant in a pot. Clear?
Gorgeous risotto.

bazu said...

Oh my god. First, my dad who lives in L.A. calls to tell me they hit 90 degrees over the weekend. Then, I see your gorgeous tulips. It's enough to give me a serious case of the winter crazies! Good thing your risotto talked me off the ledge... that is seriously one of the creamiest risottos I've ever seen. Thank you so much for the recipe.

Shelley - At Home in Rome said...

Ciao! Thanks for stopping by my blog, and can I just say MAMMA MIA, che bello questo risotto! It looks heavenly. We LURVE risotto in my Roman household. My soon-to-be Roman hubby (after 6 yrs. together, one month and counting!) makes a lovely pumpkin risotto which is probably similar to this since in Italy there's only one word for both squash and pumpkin: zucca!

Ale's what you'd call one of them continous stirring types, but that's probably ingrained in Italian youngsters from birth. ;-) So don't worry, I won't tell about your intermittent stirring habits!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I'm an intermittent stirrer, too. What I find is that the shallower the pan, the more you have to tend it, especially if you're new to risotto-making. After a while, you get a feel for your pans and the different kinds of rice, and then you can walk away for a few minutes here and there.

wheresmymind said...

I'm a paranoid risotto stirrer :Z

Patricia Scarpin said...


Risotto is my favorite food ever in the whole world. :)
Your combination of flavors sounds wonderful, I love rosemary - I even have a small vase of rosemary in my apartment and it's been growing beautifully!

I think we're really connected today - tulips are my favorite flowers. Really. I even tried to get some for my wedding bouquet, but it was January (summer here) and hot as hell - I just couldn't.

P.S.: Sorry for the long comment, but I had to say it: when I was going to the gym, religiously, everyday, all I thought about was how much I wanted to be home, cooking. ;)

Wandering Chopsticks said...

How come my tulips haven't bloomed yet?

I'm an intermittent stirrer too. But would it offend your Italian sensibilities to know I use jasmine rice and actually prefer it to arborio? *hiding my head now*

Scott at Real Epicurean said...

I really need to get cooking some risotto.

I tried once, made it too sticky, and haven't dared since. Maybe you've inspired me!

Toni said...

It's been a while since I made risotto, but I was a constant stirrer back then. I would say that Lydia's comment is right on the mark. A deeper, heavier pan makes less work for the cook.

I'd be willing to go back to my risotto efforts for this one. I love absolutely every ingredient in it. Since I don't belong to a gym, I'll have to go hike a mountain afterwards, but that's OK. It would be worth it!

MeloMeals said...

Beautiful... It looks sooo delicious... and I love that you know that you don't have to stir, stir, stir...mmmmm....

cindy said...

i grew up in cali and lived there most of my life...the fitness thing did not take with me! i have been accumulating risotto recipes, but this one seems the most delicious sounding by far! the tulip picture is beautiful. up here, north of seattle, they grow tulips, and there is a tulip festival. (coming up soon i think!) the fields of tulips are just gorgeous!

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Between the butternut squash, the rosemary, the walnuts and the blue cheese, you have hit all of my favorite ingredients! Beautiful photos -- I'm salivating! And, I'll be on the stationary bicycle tomorrow at 5:30 a.m. ...

Freya said...

I think risotto is really relaxing to make (and even more so to eat!). Yours looks so colourful!

Anonymous said...

Thanx a lot for sharing the risotto recipe!!I'm not that great a chef,but love to try out new things every time!!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Chris- Thanks! Risotto makes me happy too.

Anna- Wow, thank you so much! It was a fun entry to submit.

Julie- Intermittent is definitely the way to go!

Rachel-You get used to it. Thanks!

Cookiecrumb- I opted for the farmers' market this time. Great idea about the neighbor; if I get caught, I'll just say "Cookiecrumb made me do it." ;)

Bazu- Whew! Just in the knick of time; and I was thinking of waiting a couple of days to post it. ;)

Shelley- Grazie! I'm glad you stopped by. I'm sure Ale's zucca risotto is fabulous.

Lydia- Good point about the pans.

Jeff- Aw,give it a try. Just once.

Patricia-Well maybe we're distant cousins after all, cause my motivation while doing squats was that I could eat a few more spoonfuls of risotto. And tulips always make me smile.

Wondering Chopsticks- Jasmine rice? Actually, I'm sure it's delicious. Your friend, Susan. ;)

Scott- Give it another try. You won't be disappointed.

Toni- Hike, bike, swim, anything to eat more risotto. Thanks so much!

Melody- Thanks sooo much! I wouldn't stir you wrong. Sorry, I couldn't resist! ;)

Cinderelly- Thank you! A tulip festival? Oh, I would be in my glory!

T.W.- Stir less, bike more, that's what I could have called this.

Freya- Thanks and I totally agree.

Jessica- Trust me, it's not that hard. I'm not a chef either.

Anonymous said...

YUm, delicious. Great choice of combination of ingredients!

thepassionatecook said...

this looks so scrmptuous! i made a quiche with pumpkin & blue cheese not long ago, but this looks way more indulging! yumm...

Anonymous said...

I don't stir constantly either ever since trying out Cooks Illustrated's method. With enough broth and the right heat, it just isn't necessary.

That looks wonderful and it's one of my favorite ways to make it.

Lis said...

OMG that looks so good! I don't stir constantly either and my risotto always turns out nice a creamy.. I'm just not a patient person when it comes to standing over the stove constantly. hehe

Brilynn said...

I love risotto, you can add so many different flavours to it, yours sounds delicious!

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan! I'll confess - I'm a perpetual stir'er... but it certainly doesn't deter me from making risotto - and the idea of adding butternut squash and Rosemary just makes my mouth water!

Lucy said...

I've always been a constant stir kind of girl, more for fear of not doing it right! Thanks for the tip - I'll be a bit more relaxed now.

Is there anything better than blue cheese?!

Linda said...

how did you ever get everyone of my favorite ingredients and put into one dish!!! i am most certainly trying this! funny - i was just saying to myself this morning, "self, i've never made risotto, and i'm very italian."

thanks for sharing this ... shh.. I needed another reason to get yet another butternut squash ;)

Anonymous said...

I love the idea of all these tastes blending together. The squash, the cheeses, rosemary, walnuts--amazing! Also like the thought of cooking risotto without constant stirring. When you roast the squash, do you coat the cut side with any olive oil at all? I know most roasted vegetables fare better if you do.

Scribbit said...

I saw this post a couple days ago and it reminded me I hadn't fixed risotto for ages. Got the stuff for my sage-fontina recipe to cook tonight. I'll stir less I promise.

Anonymous said...

I've been looking for a good risotto recipe to make for my cousin and I reckon this could be it! As for the leg press, I love that machine ;)

Anonymous said...

I love this recipe. Looks delicious. I'm not Italian but I love making risotto especially in those cold winter months here in Canada, risotto is such a perfect comfort food. I must admit I do stir continously... well I don't stir but I engage my husband to stir continously. This way we spend quality time in the kitchen :-)

Love your blog,

Jeanne said...

Oh I adore risotto and this one looks just fabulous... I do have to say that I might cheat and eat it *without* first doing a punishing workout at the gym - but my excuse is that the temperature here is still like 9C, so I need a little extra body fat to stay warm! I was also quite surprised that you have tulips growing happily - I would have though CA was too temperate? Back home in my South African hometown, it was so temperate that to get your bulbs to flower, they'd need to spend some time in the fridge/freezer to fool them into thinking that they had experienced winter ;-)

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Bea-Thanks! It's one of my favorites.

Johanna-The problem is I have to stop myself from indulging too much.;) Your quiche sounds delicious.

Kate-Thanks! I agree. You get a feel for it after making it several times.

Lis-Let's say I don't have the patience of a saint either.;) Thanks so much!

Brilynn-Thanks! I agree. It works with so many seasonal ingredients.

Gilly-Consider it an added upper body workout.;) Thanks.

Lucy-You're welcome! The blue cheese really works well with the sweet squash.

Linda-I'm so glad they're your favorites! As an Italian, you simply must make risotto. Once you do, you'll be hooked forever! I promise.

Terry-So glad you like it! Yes, I do rub olive oil on it. Thanks for mentioning it; I'll add it.

Michelle-Mmmm sage and fontina sounds lovely.

Ellie-Thanks! I hope you try it. The only problem with the leg press is there's always a line.:(

Monika-Just do what I do with my husband--give him a glass of wine and some good cheese, and he'll be happy to stir forever. :) Thanks so much for the compliments!

Jeanne-Okay, I'll cut you some slack this time...;) As far as the tulips go, I think the temps in the 80's and 90's we had last week helped them along. We're usually in the 60's and 70's about now. Thanks so much!

Kirsten said...


Your post made me laugh, Phoenix is a bit like LA with everyone wearning no clothes and being VERY fitness obsessed. We are just lucky that the major industry isn't entertainment, so we are spared some of the body obsessing. People in Phoenix do actually eat. :)

This risotto looks awesome!

isabilla said...

CIAO Susan!!
that risotto mmhhmm that get me very hungry!!
and, honestly, your foto are very beautiful!

Meeta K. Wolff said...

Susan, I will confess too ... I stir occasionally! As a matter of fact when I bought Jaimie's Italy I too had to smile at the revelation. Adding butternut squash and combining it with rosemary certainly sounds like an explosive combo. Those tulips made my day too! Thanks!

Anh said...

Susan, this risotto must be perfect for me after my Aikido Training, too (I mean if I can be alive and have enough energy to cook anything!) :D. Thanks for a great recipe.

Bron said...

Risotto is the ultimate comfort food in my eyes. I will request for my last meal if I'm able to.
Your version looks divine!

Anonymous said...

My wife and I make butternut squash risotto all the time during the winter. We use on of two varations:
1. Roasted mashed squash with sage;
2. Diced, sauteed squash with leeks.
Either way, you can't go wrong. Also, I agree that risotto doesn't need to be constantly stirred. If you've got the heat right, you should be able to get light simmer without having your rice stick. Then you're golden -- like your dish.

Gattina Cheung said...

Susan, I have already saved some roasted butternut squash just for your risotto :) :)
I'm not a work-out type, maybe 24 hr diner suit me better, kekee.

Pip said...

Lovely risotto and nice picture! I just discovered your blog and I'm going to link you. :)

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Good, then you can eat your risotto qualms-free. :) Thanks!

You know your risotto, so I'm flattered! Ciao!

Meeta-Thanks! I'm so happy you enjoyed the tulips. They're just so cheerful.

Anh-Aikido sounds harder than the leg press. You'll definitely need the carb load. :) Thanks!

Bron-Thank you so much! It would be a close call between risotto and pizza for my last request.:)

Rob-I agree. You can't go wrong with sage or leeks. Thanks!

Gattina-Fantastic! I hope you like it.

Pip-Thank you so much! I really appreciate that.

Peabody said...

Wow, this looks wonderful. Butternut squash and blue cheese are two of my favorites.

sher said...

I love risotto, so any tips on how to make it easier are greatly appreciated! Your dish looks so delectable! Maybe I'll be making risotto this weekend!

Anonymous said...

that sure is one lovely creamy risotto!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Peabody-Thanks so much!

Sher-Hey, I'm all for encouraging more risotto making (and eating). Thanks!

Veronica-Oh, thank you!

Betty Carlson said...

Nice tip, although I had kind of figured it out myself as I never can seem to really stir anything constantly...now I'm reassured! It's OK!

Anonymous said...

That looks like one delicious dish!

Thanks for the tulips as well. Those are stunning!

Elizabeth said...

Your risotto looks delicious. Nice idea to add squash, blue cheese and toasted walnuts.

I do like the idea of stirring risotto less (but I'm not so keen on working my glutes more...). We just had mushroom risotto the other night - dried Chinese mushrooms that look suspiciously like porcini and chicken stock. At the last minute we decided against adding grated parmiggiano and were not sorry. The risotto was fabulous but I must say I was freaking out whenever we had to stop stirring. What a relief to know that it's okay to let it alone sometimes.


Rachel Rubin said...

That looks so amazing! What an amazing flavor combination.

I am one of those haters of stirring risotto. I'm going to have to check out Jamie's book because I've heard about this technique before. I love risotto!

Burcu said...

risottos I make are so blend compared to yours. I loved the idea of squash+blue cheese (mmmmmmm) and rosemary. I'll definitely try. Thanks for the recipe!

Rachael said...

I must admit I also fail to stir my risotto! I'm intruiged by the roasted squash...it sounds like it would be very hearty and filling that way (and sometimes for veg risotto, I find the flavor needs a big boost or else it's too starchy/ricey, if that makes sense)

This recipe sounds very interesting with this flavor combination. I'm actually not a fan of blue cheese (I might like it if I could ignore the "blue" and get myself to actually taste it), but I really need to try it.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Betty- Glad to help!

Kristen-You're welcome!

Elizabeth-Oh, I love mushroom risotto too! Thanks for stopping by!

Rachel-It's a great book!

Burcu-Thanks, I hope you do! Glad you stopped by!

Rachael- Thanks! The sweet roasted squash and nuts give it that needed "boost." You can substitute another cheese, or simply go with grated Parmesan.

Anonymous said...

Just seeing this entry today since you linked to it. I make my risotto in a pressure cooker and don't have to stir it or wait for the squash to get soft. Sage and Gorgonzola is a nice variation if you get tired of Rosemary and Bleu.
There's something wonderful about Butternut Squash Risotto, isn't there?

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Rhonda-I'm so glad you found this. It truly is one of my favorites. Sage and gorgonzola sounds fabulous as well. I'll definitely try it. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

This looks delicious. I'm not much of a risotto fan, but maybe this combination would work well in a stuffed pasta?

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Oh, certainly!

Dazy said...

Can I seriously come over for dinner soon? ...... your recipe sounds so yummy.....