Lake Isle Press

Risotto with Winter Squash, Radicchio, and Ham

The warm colors and flavors of this risotto make it a perfect comfort meal. It is hearty enough to serve on its own.

Risotto with Winter Squash, Radicchio, and Ham

Ingredients

  • 2 pinches saffron threads
  • Half of a small butternut or other winter squash (about 8 ounces)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 to 5 cups vegetable or chicken broth, or a mixture of broth and water
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped shallot or onion
  • 1 cup Carnaroli or Arborio rice
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 1 cup firmly packed shredded radicchio
  • 1 small thick-cut (1/4-inch) slice Italian prosciutto cotto or any baked or smoked ham, diced into small cubes (about 1/3 cup)
  • Sea salt or kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Grana Padano or other aged cheese
  • 1/4 cup snipped chives or flat-leaf parsley, for garnish (optional)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  In a small bowl, crumble the saffron into 1/4 cup water.  Peel the squash with a vegetable peeler and dice into 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 cups).  Place on a baking sheet and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, stirring to coat the pieces.  Roast until tender and lightly browned on several sides, about 20 minutes.  Stir halfway through the cooking.

Bring the broth to a boil and adjust the heat to a slow simmer

Meanwhile, in a large saute pan or wide-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat.  Add the shallot and cook until golden.  Stir in the rice and cook for a minute or so, until the grains are coated and smell toasty.  Add the wine, stirring until it is absorbed.

Ladle on enough of the hot broth to cover the rice.  Simmer, stirring occasionally, and adding more broth as the liquid is absorbed.  After about 10 minutes, stir in the roasted squash, the radicchio, and the ham.  Cook until heated through and the radicchio softens but does not lose its color and crunch, 5 to 10 minutes longer. 

Remove from heat.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and stir in the cheese, saffron and water, and a final ladleful of broth (you may not need it all); allow the risotto to collect itself for about 5 minutes.

Serve in shallow soup bowls, garnishing with chives or parsley if you wish.

VARIATIONS:
To make this dish vegetarian, use vegetable broth and omit the ham.
Substitute sliced white or crimini mushrooms for the radicchio, stirring them into the risotto at teh same point in the recipe.

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