Risotto alla Zucca (Squash Risotto)

Summer has gone by so fast.  One minute, I couldn't wait for the season to finish then it just went zooming by so fast that I didn't even realize it.  Did we even pass September? It played hide & seek with me. It's already October.... and it's time for some squash.  

I grew up negotiating the number of vegetables I eat in every meal. I was the family's no. 1 vegetable-evader when I was a kid and I gave my parents a difficult time every meal. To my dismay, my mother always made it a point that we accompany the meat or fish with a vegetable dish every single meal.  I think I tried all the tricks up my sleeve. That was half a lifetime of negotiating my way in eating the least possible veggies I could. Squash was one of those vegetables that took my excitement away from the prospect of enjoying a meal. Sure, it's beautiful, it's yellow orange, one of my favorite colors when I was a kid, but my relationship with squash ends there.  It's better to be looked at than be digested.  

So many years after, here I am, a mother myself and cooking as much veggies as I can to feed my kids. Hands down, my kids are much, much better than I ever was. Sure, there are some veggies that they don't like just like anyone else. No one can possibly like everything anyway. Well maybe my daughter is an exception. That kid can beat anyone in the table when I call out that the food is ready.  She drops anything she's doing, runs to the bathroom to wash her hands, climbs her chair, buckles herself, grabs her fork and demands the food to be on her plate. All accomplished with a blink of an eye.

No, it's not a reverie, it is real and it's my 22-month old daughter.  To have a child who takes eating as the most fundamental aspect of her daily routine is every parent's dream. Problem is, how do you stop an eating machine? This little pacman can shriek her way into getting what she wants. Sigh. Food and my daughter are inseparable.

As I am writing this, she's hovering around me, repeating the word gnam-gnam (nyam-nyam, means yum-yum in English) and looking at the pictures of the risotto.  Truth be told, she even tried to extricate the food from the screen when she was little.  

Just thinking that the long, sunny days are over dampens my spirits. Splashes of color helps just like how I overdid these pictures. Excuse the teaspoon. That was the most colorful utensil I could get even if it doesn't have anything to do with the food. I don't own a colorful fork.  

I enjoyed summer this year, eating outside, watching the kids play and get dirty (well, not that part), eating fresh, vibrantly colored food and of course, the gelato.  I finally took out my ice cream maker after a decade of hibernation.   I think we consumed so much gelato & granita this summer than all summers put together.   

Here's a delicious dish to help us welcome autumn and to let go of summer.  Risotto alla zucca. 

Risotto alla Zucca (Squash Risotto)

Serves 4
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, minced 
  • 300 grams Valione Nano rice (or any type of rice good for risotto like Arborio)
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 500 grams squash pulp, seeded, cleaned & diced
  • 1 liter hot vegetable broth   
  • Salt  
  • Pepper 
  • 100 grams (more or less, depending on your taste) Parmigiano Reggiano or Parmesan, grated
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Fresh parsley, finely chopped
  1. Over medium heat, in a thick-bottomed saucepan with extra virgin olive oil, sautè the onions. When the onions start to color, add the rice. Toast for 3 minutes, moving frequently to avoid burning.
  2. Pour the wine and let the alcohol evaporate for about 3 minutes.
  3. Add the squash and half of the broth.
  4. Over low - medium heat, keep on adding the broth gradually, making sure that the risotto doesn't dry up. It should cook in about 17 minutes.
  5. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. When the risotto is cooked, with a creamy consistency, turn off the fire.
  7. Add the butter, Parmigiano Reggiano (adjust the amount according to how you like it) and parsley.
  8. Serve immediately.