My Calamitous Attempt at Squash and Sun Dried Tomato Risotto

Have I mentioned that my nickname is “Calamity Jane”? Strange things happen to me that don’t happen to other people, I swear. Even in my kitchen.

I’ve been cooking a lot lately and looking for good, yet easy recipes. Preferably with few dirty dishes, too! So, risotto is one of my favorite things to make. I’ve written before about my experiment with Matt Bittman’s brown rice risotto, which substitutes parboiled brown rice in the standard arborio risotto recipe. Well, I tried a variation on that again for dinner tonight–with a small snafu! I boiled the brown rice for twenty minutes, while I sauteed cubed squash, a little red onion, a handful of spinach, and some slightly drained sun dried tomatoes. My sun dried tomatoes come in their own oil, so I left a little oil on them to impart the other vegetables with that great flavor. I love these tomatoes–they’re sweet and slightly smoky (I really want to make this smoky tomato risotto next). After twenty minutes on high, the rice was ready to be drained and put in the pan with the vegetables and a little white wine. All good. But what about the snafu?

I added in the rice and toasted it for a few minutes, adding white wine and a squeeze of lemon. But when I went to retrieve the one remaining container of chicken broth from the pantry, I realized it wasn’t chicken broth, but beef broth! And I was completely out of any alternative broth. I had to go with the beef, even though I only use it for recipes for my dogs (I don’t really eat beef, but they love it), not for me. Whoops!

Fortunately, it turned out to be delicious. More like a jambalaya, I think, than your usual risotto. Hearty and flavorful. Yum! I can’t decide what movie goes well with this, but I’ve been meaning to Netflix that John Cusack movie where he plays Edgar Allen Poe, The Raven. It looks so ridiculous that it might be fun.

The Calamity Jane Risotto

Cook brown rice, per package directions. Then in a wide pan, drizzle a small amount of olive oil and saute the following ingredients:

Two medium-sized squash, cubed

1-2 cups of spinach, stems removed

Red onion, to taste (I used a handful, sliced into thin strips like you would to caramelize them, rather than cubing them)

Two heaping tablespoons of sun dried tomatoes, lightly drained of oil (if yours are dry packed, add a little olive oil to the pan)

Salt and pepper to taste

When your rice is done cooking, drain it of excess water, then add it to the pan of vegetables. Mix and toast for a few minutes. Add in a splash of dry white wine and a little bit of lemon juice. Then get a 14.5 oz. can of beef broth and add it to the pan, in 1/2 cup increments, stirring the mixture on medium-high heat until all the liquid is absorbed. Since the brown rice is tougher, you want it to be very hot and bubbly. When all the liquid is absorbed, add grated parmesan and fontina cheese. I used about a 1/4 cup of each cheese. Then, you can add more pepper and even a little butter, if you want.

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