A delicate vegetarian dish, filled with vitamins and resembling a mountain of little pine trees, just in time for the holidays. A risotto with romanesco broccoli, goat cheese and butternut squash with a splash of white wine and fresh thyme.
This recipe came from my experiements to make a meal with that strange looking hybrid of broccoli and cauliflower called romanesco broccoli. I’ve encountered this vegetable in the market and saw how the florets from it looked like little pine trees… I had to make something out of this for the holiday season. So I’ve explored a few ideas, one was the little christmas quiches with a base of potato which I’ve use for my collaboration with Elena from happykitchen.rocks, check it out here, those irresistible and festive little quiches. The second idea was to make a white risotto (goat cheese helped) and stick a few little romanesco broccoli florets into it to ressemble a christmas tree mountain… Result: a nice holiday risotto, with lots of veggies but not as invocative of Christmas as I would have liked. I’ve added a side kick to the romanesco broccoli; the butternut squash which goes perfectly with the goat cheese.
The technique for risotto is mainly to move the rice…well no need to over do it, just enough not to make it stick to the pan. This way it makes the rice starch comes out and gives the rice this creamy, smooth texture we want. What makes the round grain rice (arborio, carnaroli) for risotto special from other rice grains is mainly the fact that you have to lightly toast the rice at first, this help to keep the rice grain in better shape in the end, kind of a protective layer. Also the pan is important, a large and high enough pan to make sure the liquid can evaporate fast and concentrate all those flavors.
Often people believe risottos are difficult to make at home, but it’s far from the truth. It’s a “under 30 minutes” meal which is easy once you get the technique. Once you get it, you can make so many different different flavors with it; mushroom, asparagus, saffron, seafood, etc. The importance is mainly a good broth, a tasty and well seasoned one and a good wine which I believe give the dish its “special” flavor. In most recipes, just like in mine, you’ll see the wine being poured in the beginning of cooking. I personally always add a tiny touch of wine in the end of coccion also, just a tad to give it this exquisite final touch. But of course this step is optional.
Let’s make this Christmas trees risotto!
Romanesco, Goat Cheese & Butternut Squash Risotto
Makes 4 portions | Preparation: 15 minutes | Cooking time: 20 minutes
- 600g (or 4 full ladle) arborio rice, carnaroli or bomba rice
- 1 litre of vegetable broth (might not use it all)
- 250g of butternut squash cut into small cubes of 1cm
- 300g of romanesco broccoli cut into small florets
- 1 onion finely diced
- 70g of fresh goat cheese
- 100ml of white wine
- 20g butter
- thyme, salt and pepper
- Start by cutting all the vegetables, reserve the romanesco aside
- Bring the broth to simmer, keep warm
- Add half the butter to a big pan, once melted add the onions and salt, cook at medium heat until translucent (about 5 minutes)
- Add the other half of butter in the center of the pan and the arborio rice, let the grains of rice get transparent and well soaked in the butter (medium-high heat, about 1-2 minutes)
- Add the white wine, butternut squash, thyme, salt and pepper and mix it all good
- Then add 1 ladle at the time of the broth, while moving the risotto with a spatula, make the rice soak almost all the juice then add more broth, repeat until the end of cooking (20 minutes)
- Meanwhile the previous step, bring a pot of salty water to boil or the warm broth, add the romanesco broccoli florets in it and cook for about 3 minutes (al dente), reserve
- When the risotto is almost ready, 1 minutes before the end of cooking, add an extra sip of white wine (optional), check the seasoning and take off the fire
- Add the goat cheese, mix good serve right away with a few romanesco broccoli on top.