Monday, January 23, 2012

Risotto with Roasted Kobocha Winter Squash and Bacon

I am still on a winter squash kick. It is good to cook what is seasonaly available and  since there is a variety of winter squash in season and various ways to use it, this is easy!

     This time I wanted to try something different so I bought a kobocha squash which is green speckled in a pumpkin shape.The kobocha has a nice flavor and isn't stringy or watery.  I think it is great added to things like pastas, breads and this risotto! I also had some regular sugar pumpkin so I mixed a bit of that in too.  I don’t know if the kobocho squash is available in your area but any cooking pumpkin will be nice,  okHHokkaido or  Long Island cheese pumpkins are excellent choices. And of course, my favorite- Butternut, would also be good in this risotto. Butternut can't be beat for great texture and color and a small seed cavity which means more squash in each one.

Today’s recipe is risotto with squash or pumpkin along with smoky bacon. The pumpkin and bacon are a wonderfully flavorful combination for this risotto.

Risotto is a delicious rice dish that gets its creaminess from the way it is cooked rather than cream or loads of cheese. I made this particular recipe dairy free and it was quite creamy! Risotto is quite easy to make although it does take a bit of tending to as it is stirred throughout the cooking process. 

Risotto with Roasted Kobocha Winter Squash and Bacon

1 small orange winter squash--kobocha or pumpkin or butternut ( about 3 cups)

5-6 bacon strips, prefer applewood smoked, uncured, but use any you like

1-2 TBSP  canola oil or olive oil, -- Extra virgin or light

1 small Onion, diced

2 Cups  Arborio Rice

1 tsp coriander
½ tsp, garam masala, optional

1/2 tsp garlic powder, optional
¼- ½ tsp. red pepper flakes, crushed, optional
½ tsp, smoked paprika or  paprika
Pinch of cinnamon

1 tsp garlic, minced, optional

1 tsp. ginger paste, optional

  1  cup  White Wine  

  6 cups veggie or chicken Broth, more or less

  1/4 -1/3 Cup  Freshly Grated Parmesiano Reggiano, optional

Salt And Freshly Ground Pepper To Taste

Extra parmesan for topping at table, along with shelled, roasted pepitas if desired

Preheat oven to 350
First, wash winter squash- kabocha or pumpkin and cut in half. Remove seeds and place in bowl of water to clean and save them to roast. Scrape out any strings inside and place cut side down on an oiled baking sheet ( may line pan with foil for ease of cleaning).  Place in middle of the oven and bake just until tender and soft. Do not overcook- especially the kobucha or it will get mealy and dry. Remove squash from oven and turn halves over to cool. Once cool enough to handle, remove skin if using pumpkin and if you want on kobucha ( I have heard skin is edible but I have removed skin till now so either is fine.) I usually remove skin by spooning the “meat” out with big spoon. Cut into large chunks, no need to be completely uniform, as some will break up.  I like to use about 3 cups of squash in this rice.

In small sauce pan heat up chicken broth or veggie broth. Keep on low simmer.
Start risotto in a large, wide, heavy pot by cooking bacon up. Once bacon is crispy, remove to drain on paper towels. Pour off and reserve bacon grease, leaving about 2 TBSP  and browned bits in pan. Heat pan up to medium.
Next heat the pan the bacon was cooked in and brown all of the squash/pumpkin in the bacon grease (or you can remove and reserve all bacon grease from pan and add canola oil if you prefer). Cook about 3 cups of squash till it is starting to brown a bit on the edges here and there. Gently stir a few times during process but do not over stir, You want some browning to occur.   Remove to bowl and cover until needed.    
Next,lower heat to medium low and add onion to the pan, with a bit of bacon drippings and a tsp or 2 of canola oil. Cook for 5 minutes till softened.

Once the onions have softened well, add a bit of the olive oil if needed or a bit more of the bacon grease.There should be a total of about 2 -3 TBSP of bacon drippings and oil in the pan.  Add rice and spices, if you wish to use spice.  This risotto is pretty flavorful so you can skip the spice if you prefer.  Cook while stirring, using a wooden spoon to mix and coat each grain with oil.
 Add HALF of the pumpkin or squash, about 1  1/2 cups. These bits will be pretty much pureed into the rice as it cooks. Also add in garlic and ginger, if using. Saute for 1-2 minutes.
Add wine and continue stirring rice, a figure 8 pattern is recommended, while wine is absorbed. Make sure you stir all areas of the pot so rice will not get mushy. Once the track of the spoon remains in the rice add 1 cup or a couple of ladles of hot broth. Repeat this process as each cup of broth is absorbed. 
When you have just a cup or so  left, add the rest of the squash, cut into smallish chunks to rice. Also, crumble or chop bacon and add it to rice.
Continue to add broth until rice is al dente- tender but with a bit of texture to it. If you run low on broth, add water to broth pan to heat before you get to the bottom of broth. This process will take about 20 -25 minutes.

Once rice is at desired consistency, you could mix in a few Tablespoons of water or broth and then serve (this helps make it creamier). If you like, add a bit of parmesan cheese, between ¼ and 1/3  cup, but if you wish it to be dairy- free it is fine to skip. If some want cheese you can let them add it at table.
Taste and add desired salt and pepper. I find this does not need a lot of salt due to the bacon.
Serve as soon as possible. If you like, top with cheese or roasted pumpkin seeds ( I prefer shelled, natural seeds roasted for 10 minutes with olive oil and salt in 350 oven.)


  1. Looks delicious! Thanks for sharing the recipe, I can't wait to try it myself!

  2. Mmmm, looks fantastic! I love risotto, and squash sounds like it would make it even creamier :) Wonderful.

  3. Okay - risotto, squash, bacon....HOLY DELICIOUSNESS! This was awesome, I am glad I popped over! Beautiful!

  4. Butternut squash is my favorite too - it's got such a mild flavor that it goes well in so many different dishes without overpowering anything. And it can be so rich and creamy. Perfect for a risotto!

  5. Lots of goodies in here Denise! The risotto soaked up all the good soup from roasted veggies. This is such a nice winter food! I might overeat this though. I know I won't help it in front of dish like this!

  6. This looks amazing! I LOVE risotto with butternut squash - but adding bacon sounds absolutely perfect! Thanks for sharing and YUM!

  7. I fully support your winter squash kick. Holy smokes that looks tasty!