nancys-photos-011About a month ago I wrote down everything that I have in my cupboards and have been making a very big effort to cook with those ingredients (rice/beans/grains/pasta) and only supplement them with fresh vegetables as I need them.  Today in my list (and hence my cupboard), I came across risotto/arborio rice (which I had about 1 cup left of).  Risotto is Italian arborio rice and a more thorough description is here.  From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Arborio rice is an Italian medium-grain rice. It is named after the town of Arborio in the Po Valley, where it is grown. Cooked, the rounded grains are firm and creamy due to the high starch content of this rice variety. They are the traditional rice in risotto.

Last week I had also bought 2 Golden Nugget Squashes which basically look like miniature acorn squashes that are bright orange.  These had a sticker on them that stated their origin to be from Ohio (where my mom is from).  I also had on hand a red onion, garlic, and a shallot.  I went to the supermarket and got some sprigs of rosemary, 1 red pepper, and some fresh spinach.  This is what I did with all of that.  The risotto turns a beautiful orangey yellow that looks like I used saffron but did not.  Little gems of red pepper and faint purpley/red onion bits poke through the sea of orange.  It is a richly flavored dish.

2 Golden Nugget Squashes (cut in half and scoop seeds out)
extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion (peeled and chopped)
1 red pepper (seeded and chopped)
1 shallot (peeled and finely chopped)
2 cloves garlic (peeled and finely chopped)
3 cups low/no sodium vegetable broth
1 sprig fresh rosemary (finely chopped)
salt and pepper
splash of balsamic vinegar
3 large handfuls of fresh spinach
1 handful pecans (toasted and roughly chopped)

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Smear a baking dish big enough to hold all 4 halves of the squash with olive oil and put the squash halves skin side up in it and bake for 25 minutes (or until tender).  Let cool and scoop flesh out into bowl.  Smash or puree till smooth and set aside.  Put about 1-2 tblp. extra virgin olive oil in the bottom of a large high sided skillet and turn the heat to med/high.  Add the onion, shallot, and garlic and saute till transluscent (but not burnt) and add red pepper.  Salt and pepper the veggies (just a little).  Saute till onions slighly carmelized and peppers soft (but still holding shape) approx. 8 minutes.  Add arborio rice and coat with oil and vegetables in pan.  Reduce heat to medium.  Slowly start adding veggie broth about 1/2 c. at a time and stir constantly until each addition has been absorbed by the rice.  Before the last addition of broth is added, add the squash puree, then the broth, and stir until broth is absorbed by rice.  Add the splash of balsamic vinegar.  Stir in the chopped rosemary and adjust to taste with salt and pepper.  The arborio rice should be creamy and al dente (with a firm but not mushy bite) like pasta is.   Stir in nuts and spinach or serve over spinach.  Enjoy!

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