What comes to mind when you think of risotto? A bowl of creamy, dreamy comfort food? Or a time consuming, “pain in the arm” stir-a-thon?
Luckily we can have one of those things (the deliciousness) without the other (the stirring). It’s called baked risotto. And it’s a total game changer.
I started making baked risotto a couple of years ago and I haven’t looked back since. The initial steps in the recipe are similar to traditionally prepared risotto. But then you add ALL the broth at once, cover your pot with a tight fitting lid and transfer it to your pre-heated oven to bake. Now you have a blissful 20 minutes of free time to get a salad together, sauté some side vegetables or sit back and have a glass of wine. I’ll be taking that third option, please.
To make this Baked Butternut Squash and Champagne Risotto extra satisfying, I went heavy on the vegetables and loaded it up with onions, mushrooms, butternut squash and fresh spinach. A touch of fresh thyme leaves and lemon zest stirred in at the end give this dish some brightness. And because Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, I thought it would be a fun twist to use a bit of champagne in this recipe. If you don’t want to pop an entire bottle of champagne, look for those mini-bottles in your liquor store/grocery store. Or you can certainly use a dry white wine (sparkling or flat) in place of the champagne, if you prefer.
There are a couple brands of vegetarian-friendly Parmesan cheese available in the US. But if you can’t get your hands on some, feel free to completely omit the cheese in this recipe. I’ve made baked risotto many times without the cheese and the results are still very good. Just be sure to taste and adjust the seasoning at the end. You’ll likely want to add a few extra pinches of salt to make up for the loss of salty-ness from the cheese.
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