|That golden glow|
Aside from the song that, thanks to an old Gap ad campaign about lovely singing zombies and its inherent catchiness always gets stuck in my head, I mostly know saffron as "the stuff that makes paella yellow." Now fortified with my own tiny, precious stash, I need to find things to do with it. One can't simply let the world's most expensive spice by weight go to waste.
It may not be an utterly daring departure from paella, but I decided to start with risotto. The words "saffron rice" leap into my head as word association, so there you go. In keeping with the golden theme, I chose to pair it with some butternut squash. In keeping with my taste buds, I added copious amounts of cheese. Silky smooth, but al dente, with the rich color and aroma only saffron can give, it's great for a cold winter's night.
Some people seem to consider risotto a challenge, but I think it's like falling off a log. Traditionally, it's made with arborio rice and the short-grained starchiness certainly helps achieve the appropriate creamy texture, but I can vouch from experience that the same technique can make pretty much any kind of rice work. I've even made it with prepackaged brown minute rice (quelle horreur!) and had it come out fine. I wouldn't call it labor intensive, but there's
|Because you're worth it|
One last word of precaution: you may wish to save the butternut squash and scatter it across the top after you've blended in the cheese. Otherwise, you'll end up with photos like mine, where the sheer creaminess envelopes the dish to a degree that it will be utterly and irrevocably invisible. Alternatively, if you happen to be of the persuasion to hide vegetables from your children, stir it right in as a stealthy trick. Not exactly health food, though.
12 oz butternut squash, seeded, peeled, and chopped
2 tbs + 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 Mayan sweet onion (or Spanish, or yellow)
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 sprigs fresh thyme
1 generous pinch saffron (Too much saffron is bitter, but it gives the risotto its rich color and aroma)
32 oz vegetable stock
1 c rice (arborio is best; you may insert "other," but plan for more stock and more time)
4 oz goat cheese
4 oz Parmigiano Reggiano
Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
Preheat your oven to 450° F. Toss the squash on a baking sheet with 2 tbs olive oil, salt, and pepper. Pop it into the oven to roast while you prepare the risotto, 30-45 minutes, depending on your preferred level of caramelization.
|Proof of vegetables|
|Strategery, Stradegy, Strategy|
Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, 1 minute more. Add the rice to the onion and garlic mixture, and continue to stir until the rice is glistening and faintly translucent, then ever-so-slightly toasted golden with a faint, nutty aroma, about 5 more minutes.
Add the stock, one ladleful at a time, into the rice and stir until absorbed.
|Love's Labors Lost|
|Now you see 'em|
|Now you don't!|