Versatile risotto is stylish comfort food

September 28, 1999

Two recipes offer very different but equally stylish risottos, suitable for family dining or for entertaining guests.

Risotto with Butternut Squash, Lobster and Sage is a dish to prepare as the days get shorter and the air turns crisp. This beautiful risotto combines the bounty of autumn with lobster. Serve it with a green salad, a loaf of bread and a rich white wine for an easy, elegant meal.

[cont. from lifestyle]

No, Strawberry Risotto is not dessert! An adventurous, new-Italian twist on classic risotto, it actually is more savory than sweet, with the barest hint of strawberry flavor. A touch of marsala wine gives this risotto a certain finesse. Top the risotto with a few sprigs of lightly steamed asparagus for a picture-perfect starter course.

- The Associated Press


Risotto with Butternut Squash, Lobster and Sage

Recipe adapted from "Cucina & Famiglia" (William Morrow, $25, to be published this fall) by Joan Tropiano Tucci and Gianni Scappin with Mimi Shanley Taft and Stanley Tucci.

  • 8 cups chicken broth, approximately (this is probably more than you will need)
  • 1/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup minced onions
  • 1 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced into 1/4-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
  • cups Arborio rice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves
  • 1/2 pound cooked lobster meat, cut into bite-size pieces (about 1 cup)
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • tablespoons brandy or cognac
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

In a large saucepan, whisk together chicken broth and pumpkin puree. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and leave the broth at a gentle simmer.

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, warm 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Stir in onions and cook until softened but not browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir squash in with onions and cook about 2 minutes. Stir in rice, sage and 2 cups of the simmering broth. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, then reduce heat to a simmer.

When the rice has absorbed the liquid, add half the lobster meat and 1/2 cup of the simmering broth. Stir rice until the liquid is absorbed. Continue adding the remaining broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently after each addition and allowing the rice to absorb the liquid before adding more.

After 15 minutes, taste a grain of rice. It should have a slight resistance to the bite. If it seems too hard, add 1/4 cup more broth and continue cooking for another minute or two until broth has been absorbed. Stir in the remaining lobster. Remove pot from heat.

Season with salt and pepper. Add brandy, parsley, butter and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Using a wooden spoon, stir vigorously to incorporate all the ingredients. Cover and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving. Serves 4 to 6.


* An additional 1/4 pound chopped butternut squash may be substituted for the pumpkin puree.

* Crabmeat or shrimp may be substituted for the lobster.

Strawberry Risotto

Recipe adapted from "Risotto" (Macmillan, 1987) by Judith Barrett and Norma Wasserman.

  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup finely minced onion
  • 1/2 cup strawberries, washed, hulls and stems removed, diced
  • 1/4 cup sweet marsala wine
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Bring broth to a boil, then reduce the heat, leaving broth at a gentle simmer.

Heat butter in a heavy 4-quart casserole over moderate heat. Add onion and saut for 1 to 2 minutes, until it is translucent, being careful not to brown it. Add strawberries and continue cooking until they begin to lose their red color and give up their juices. Add marsala and cook until the liquid in the pot is reduced to about 1 tablespoon.

Add rice to the strawberry mixture; using a wooden spoon, stir for 1 minute, making sure all the grains are well coated. Begin to add the simmering broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Wait until each addition is almost completely absorbed before adding the next 1/2 cup. Reserve about 1/4 cup to add at the end.

After approximately 18 minutes (from the first addition of broth), taste to see if the rice is al dente (tender but still firm to the bite). If it seems too hard, add 1/4 cup more broth and continue cooking for another minute or two. Remove pan from the heat.

Add reserved broth, butter and Parmesan, stirring vigorously to combine with the rice. Cover and let the risotto "rest" a few minutes to absorb the flavors before serving.

Serves 4 to 6.

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