Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Gluten free butternut squash risotto with andouille

It seems almost too good to be true, but I passed my dissertation defense on Friday. That thing, that graduate education, which has been a part of my life for the past five years, is over.

No more worrying about syllabi (neither those from which I’m learning or from which I’m teaching), no more studying for exams, no more wondering whether I’ll finish, no more no more no more.

You would think I’d be bouncing off the walls, but my excitement is tempered with a sense of loss as well. I’ve been a student for 21 years of my short life and that student identity is now, suddenly, ceasing to exist. I have to incorporate a new identity – that of doctor – when I don’t really feel any more qualified to do that today than I did last week. Which forces me to ask - did I get out of my graduate education what I wanted?

I tell myself, even as tumultuous as my graduate experience was, I did learn a lot. And that knowledge will present itself in the work that I do, whether I can explicitly point to it or not.

Ben and I celebrated Friday night by going out for gluten free pizza and beer – which we enjoyed at an outside table in the sun. I was exhausted and hadn’t eaten since lunch; it felt so good to relax. The rest of the weekend I was in mostly a haze, though I visited with some friends and Ben and I familiarized ourselves with some Portland neighborhoods (house-hunting research!).

I feel like I’m finally getting my sea legs under me after this weekend and I can actually think about other things…

Portland has been rainy and cool the past few days. Drizzle mixed with powerful down-pours and a shot of thunder thrown in. Monday was the perfect day to make warm comfort food, though most of the rest of the country is gearing up to warmer weather. I had a small package of frozen cooked squash in my freezer and decided now was the time to use it - before Portland, too, is too warm to be thinking about winter squash.

This risotto came together beautifully. I kept it simple and if you have frozen squash available to you (sometimes it’s hard to find at the grocery store), it’s a cinch to make. I used freshly grated nutmeg because, well, it smells and tastes delicious, but you can use the pre-ground version if that is what you have. The sweetness of the cinnamon and nutmeg really complements the spice of the sausage – and all that vitamin A? This dish is delicious AND healthy. It is also dairy free, if you omit the feta cheese.

Butternut squash risotto with andouille sausage:

4 cups chicken broth

1 cup aborio rice

½ large onion, diced

1 small package cooked butternut squash (or about 2 cups)

2 andouille sausages, sliced

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Feta cheese for garnish (optional)

Toasted pine nuts for garnish (optional)

Bring your broth to a simmer in a sauce pan over medium-low heat. Keep it simmering at this heat until you have used it all.

In your large stockpot, heat a good dose of olive oil over medium heat (it should well-cover the bottom of your pot) and saute your onions for a few minutes, until they begin to soften. Add the rice and stir for a few minutes, until the edges of the rice become translucent.

Add a ladle-full of broth and stir until all of the broth is absorbed. Add another ladle-full and stir until absorbed. If too much broth is evaporating, i.e., your mixture is rapidly boiling and/or you have lots of steam coming from the rice mixture, turn your heat down a touch. Continue adding ladle-fulls of broth and stirring until all of the broth is used, or until the rice is tender, with just a tiniest bit of bite left. Add your spices, the sausage, and the butternut squash and stir well.

Cover and remove from heat. Let the dish rest for about 5-10 minutes.

Serve with feta cheese and toasted pine nuts sprinkled on top.



Steph said...

First of all, big congrats!! Second, I was rummaging through my freezer tonight, and I found some frozen butternut. I thought I might find a recipe for it this weekend, and lo and behold, you've made my job easy :) I can't wait to try this recipe.
Good luck w/ the house hunt!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on completing your degree. Your legs will come back to you, just be gentle with yourself in the transition. At least you are entering the magical time of year in Portland, when the winds are good, rain is lighter and sunshine more frequent. The risotto looks amazing, I'll try it soon.

Lauren Denneson said...

Steph - Thanks! and, I think your butternut squash and this recipe are a match made in heaven!

Jean - Thank you! It is indeed a great time of year in Portland and I certainly look forward to having more time to enjoy it.

Gina said...

Congratulations on finishing your degree! I agree that the weather here has been kind of mind-blowing. I've actually been really enjoying it. I love your butternut squash risotto recipe - I've done plenty of risottos but not this one - so thanks for the recipe. I enjoyed your comments on my Deschutes beer post - thanks for stopping by!