Comforting and creamy, this Butternut Squash and Kale Risotto is the perfect winter meal for easy entertaining.
It’s that time of year again, you guys…wine time!
Ok ok, that’s not true. In my world, it’s wine time anytime after 4pm pretty much 365 days a year. BUT, it’s officially the holiday season, which means I will no longer be sipping my “mommy juice” solo.
Actually, what it means is that there will be a whole lot of entertaining friends and family over the next month, so it’s time to get ready.
Are you ready?
Yes! No? Either or, that’s ok. I totally get it, the holidays can be stressful. That’s what the wine is for, remember? (totally kidding!…a little)
Most meals I like to prepare- especially if it’s for company- need to be fast, easy and delicious (obviously). Sometimes, however, i’ll make an exception to my time rule if a meal is really really worth it. After all, I’d much rather be socializing than cooking; however, this Butternut Squash and Kale Risotto is an exception I am happy to make.
Here’s the thing about risotto- it’s needy. It demands a lot of attention. And it’s 100% worth it. Risotto is rich, creamy, and oh so wonderful! Adding vegetables to the dish is optional, but I couldn’t imagine eating a risotto without one kind of vegetable or another as a main player in the dish (but that should be no surprise if you’ve followed along here for a while- veggies are my fav).
Speaking of vegetables, I paired this risotto with a crisp, refreshing side salad- something to counterbalance the richness of the risotto. The combination together is pure perfection. I used baby arugula as my salad base, but feel free to use your favorite greens. Drizzle with olive oil, lemon and orange just, and salt and pepper, and that’s it. Oh yes, and the Parm. We can’t forget the Parm (Parmesan cheese, just in case there’s any confusion).
Butternut Squash and Kale Risotto with a Simple Arugula Side Salad
For the Risotto:
- 4 cups butternut squash (chopped into small cubes)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- salt + pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 yellow onion (diced)
- 5 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 cup arborio rice
- 1 cup dry white wine (optional)
- 5 cups low sodium vegetable or chicken broth
- 3 tablespoons half and half
- salt + pepper (to taste)
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 cup Asiago cheese or Parmesan cheese (shredded (or a combination of the two)- plus more for serving)
- 2 cups fresh kale (finely chopped)
- 2 lemons (cut into wedges (for serving))
For the Salad:
- 6 ounces fresh baby arugula
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon freshly-squeezed orange juice
- Salt (to taste)
- Freshly shaved Parmesan cheese (for serving)
For the Risotto:
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add butternut squash and stir to coat. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and chili powder. Continue to cook over medium heat until squash is a nice golden brown and starting to caramelize just a bit (but not mushy), stirring frequently to prevent burning. Carefully remove to a plate and set aside.
- Meanwhile, in a separate pot, warm up vegetable (or chicken) stock and keep warm.
- To the same skillet (that the butternut squash was cooked in) add the onion and sauté for 3-4 minutes over medium heat, stirring frequently. Add the minced garlic to the onion and cook for an additional minute before stirring in the arborio rice. Sauté the rice with the onion and garlic for 1-2 minutes, stirring to prevent browning. Add the white wine and cook, stirring continuously, until at least half of the liquid has been reduced.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and gently stir in the warm vegetable broth with the rice, 1 cup at a time. Gently stir and mix in the broth with the rice as it is being added. Once the liquid is absorbed into the rice, add an additional 1 cup of broth to the rice. Continue with this method until rice reaches desired consistency- it should be done, but still have a bit of firmness left to it (in other words, el dente). I ended up using 4 full cups of broth.
- Stir in half and half, salt and pepper (to taste), dried thyme, shredded cheese and chopped kale. Mix well. If it seems to thick, add an additional 1/2 cup warm broth and gently mix to combine. Cook on low until kale is cooked and seasoning has been adjusted to your preference. Gently stir in the cook squash and garnish with additional red chili flakes or Parmesan cheese and fresh lemon juice.
- Serve immediately (although leftovers are also fantastic).
For the Salad:
- Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl just before serving. Garnish with freshly shaved Parmesan cheese.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)