Risotto di Zucca (rice with squash)

Emboldened by my success with Riso alla Pitoca, last weekend I tackled another of the elusive* recipes from the 'Lidia's Italy' episode called Notto Risotto.

Here's the recipe as I guesstimated from the show.
Risotta di Zucca (Rice with Squash)
(adapted from Lidia's Italy TV show, ep. Notto Risotto)

Serves 4

1/2 lrg or 1 small onion, roughly chopped
1-2 carrots, peeled & roughly chopped
1-2 stalks celery, cleaned & roughly chopped
Aim for approximately equal amounts of onion, carrots, and celery. Toss all in food processor and chop until fine but not completely pulverized.

Main Ingredients
2 Tblsp oil
3-4 cups cubed butternut squash (peel, cut into ~1/2" cubes)
4.5 cups water, hot
1.5 cups rice (arborio, other short grain?)

To Finish
2 Tblsp butter, room temp.
grated parmesan cheese to taste
salt & pepper to taste (See note)

Heat 2 Tblsp oil in a heavy-bottomed pot. The heavy bottom is important as it will keep the rice from scorching during cooking.

Add pestata, (salt,) cook for a few minutes.

If it seems dry, add a little more oil, then add the squash cubes and four cups of the water. Hold back 1/2 cup for adjustments along the way.

Bring to boil, cover, and cook for 5 minutes or so.

Stir in rice, (salt.) Cover, reduce heat, simmer for 15 minutes. If you're worried about scorching, stir every 5 minutes or so. Check rice and squash for doneness after 15 minutes. Cook 5-10 minutes more if needed.

When rice is just done:
- If it's too wet, remove lid and simmer until it reaches desired consistency.
- If it's too dry, add a little more hot water. It will continue to thicken as it sits after adding the cheese and butter.

Remove from heat and add 2 T butter, stir in vigorously. Lidia called this step 'mantecare'. Stir in parmesan cheese.

Serve immediately, as this does not improve over time.

I meant to weigh the squash before I dismembered it but forgot. It was not a large squash, maybe small-to-medium, and I had enough cubes left over to freeze for later.

Try to make the squash cubes as consistent as possible. Large ones will take longer to cook.

I salted as I added each step to the pot and didn't need to add any salt at the end.

There's no way this qualifies for Project Weeknight due to the veggie prep, but if I had some pestata and squash in the freezer... hmmmm. Might have to give that some thought.

True confession: I didn't cook the recipe as demonstrated. Instead, I added a generous tablespoon of curry powder with the pestata and subbed a can of coconut milk for 1.5 cups of water. I also skipped the mantecara at the end since the coconut milk was full-fat and had an impressing chunk of solidified coconut fat on top. It was really good. The coconut flavor did not dominate, but I still think it was worth it. Next time I might try a can of low-fat coconut milk.

* As you may have noticed, I usually try to respect copyright and link to recipes I feature instead of reprinting them, but it really pisses me off when a cooking show doesn't make the recipes it demonstrates available online. The recipes from this episode don't even seem to be in the companion book! In my mind, that makes it OK for me to present my best guess.

Rationalize, much?


Huhnybee said...

Gah! I was scouring for this recipe. Thank you very much for adapting her recipe from the show.

Kevin D said...

thx for posting your takes on here notto risotto recipes. For the life of me, I can't understand why she doesn't give the quantities when she's making something!

Kevin D said...

on her notto risotto recipes, I mean :)

Liz Tee said...

IKWYM - as a non-intuitive American cook it drives me nuts! To her, it's probably like giving amounts for boiling water - so trivila. :)

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU for working out this recipe!!! I too go nuts when something is shown on one of the cooking shows and nothing can be found on the net or in the accompanying cookbook(s). In accordance with Murphy's Law, I will inevitably stumble on to something like this halfway through the last showing of the program that week, so chance to re-view either. ARG! Thanks again. Can't wait to try it!

Anonymous said...

When you said that the coconut flavor did not dominate, was it like a hint of coconut flavor in a good way? thanks!

Liz Tee said...

It's been awhile and my memory is faulty, but I think there was a very slight coconut flavor.