Chili Garlic Acorn Squash with Risotto

Risotto is one of my go-to dinners. It’s so easy, very pantry friendly, and can take on different lives based on what you pair it with and what flavors you choose to explore. We had an acorn squash just waiting to be roasted into gorgeous tender slices, and when paired with a creamy bowl of risotto — voila!– a meal is born.

The risotto is so rich and heavy so I chose to balance that out by flavoring the squash with sharp spices like chili and garlic. You could also choose to mix up the textures by adding a crispy element such as croutons or veggie bacon bits (we didn’t have any on hand this time, but I’m sure that would’ve made it even more delicious).

You could serve this squash with lots of other hearty grains, such as farro, barley, or rice. And especially with the punchy and aromatic spices, it’s such an easy way to liven up an everyday meal. Enjoy!

1 acorn squash
olive oil
chili powder
garlic powder

1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 heaping cup arborio rice
4 cups vegetable stock
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut off the stem of the acorn squash, and slice into 3/4″ slices. Scoop out the seeds in the middle, and then cut the slices into half moons. In a large bowl, toss slices with olive oil, salt, a generous sprinkle each of chili powder and garlic powder. Place slices on a baking sheet, evenly spaced, and roast in the oven for about 20-25 minutes. Turn slices over halfway through cooking.

Meanwhile, heat stock in a small saucepan over low heat – if you have white wine in the fridge, add a splash to the stock, it adds a nice acidic balance.

At the same time, in a large, deep skillet over medium heat, add olive oil and yellow onion. Saute for about 2-3 minutes or until onion is softened and just starting to take on color. Add mushroom slices and a pinch of salt, and saute for another 2 minutes until mushrooms become slightly tender. Next, add the rice and another drizzle of olive oil. Stir until the rice is almost translucent. Pour in stock, a half cup at a time, and stir until stock is fully absorbed before adding more stock. The rice should become starchy and creamy over time. Adjust heat if necessary (if stock is absorbing and evaporating too quickly, lower heat, but if the stock takes a very long time to absorb each time, kick the heat up a tiny bit). Season with salt at least once during this process. Once all the stock is finished, remove the risotto from heat and taste to see if you need to add more salt. You can also add some nutritional yeast if you want to add a nutty/salty flavor.

Serve immediately with roasted squash slices.

Serves 2 generously

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