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.
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
- 8 ounces button mushrooms stemmed and quartered
- 1/2 cup diced onion
- 2 garlic cloves peeled and minced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 cup champagne
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- Scant 3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
- 2 cups spinach roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese grated
- 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
- Finely grated zest from 1/2 lemon
- Pre-heat your oven to 425°F.
- In a medium oven-proof pot with a tight fitting light, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the butternut squash, mushrooms, onion, garlic, salt and pepper. Cook the vegetables, stirring frequently, until they have started to soften and their volume is reduced by approximately half, about 5-7 minutes.
- Stir in the champagne and cook, scrapping the bottom of the pot to loosen any browned pieces, until the liquid is almost completely evaporated, about 3-5 minutes. Add the Arborio rice, stirring to coat. Then add the vegetable broth. Bring everything to a boil, then cover the pot and transfer it to your pre-heated oven to bake for 20 minutes.
- Remove the pot from the oven and carefully remove the lid. Stir in the spinach, Parmesan cheese, thyme leaves and lemon zest. There will be some liquid remaining, but it will get absorbed as the risotto rests.
- Let the risotto rest for about 5 minutes before transferring it to serving dishes. Enjoy while warm.
- Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in your refrigerator for 2-3 days.