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Heat the oven to 400°F.Toss the butternut squash with a bit of olive oil then spread on a cookie sheet; bake in the oven until tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. During the last 5 minutes add the diced artichoke hearts. Keep warm and set-aside.
While the squash is roasting, saute the pancetta in a small saute pan over medium heat until it just begins to crisp (you don't want it crispy, just starting to around the edges) and some of the fat has been rendered. Remove the pancetta to paper towels to drain. Reserve the oil.
Place your pressure cooker or high sided saute pan over medium high heat; add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan by about 1/4 inch; add 1 tablespoon of the pancetta oil. Add the onions and saute until translucent; about 2 minutes, then add the rice; cook, stirring until the rice is opaque; 3 - 5 minutes. Add the wine or vermouth and cook until it has evaporated. If making the risotto in a pressure cooker, add the 2 cups broth and cover; bring to pressure; reduce heat just to maintain pressure and cook for 7 minutes. Release the pressure; open and stir in the squash, artichoke hearts and pancetta. Cook until heated through, then add the cheese. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper. If the risotto is not loose enough, add a little chicken stock. Serve in heated bowls with the Arugula Walnut Pesto and optional seared scallop.
If making the risotto in the traditional way; once the rice and onions have been sautéed and the wine reduced, add two ladles of warm stock, stir and cook until almost evaporated, then add two more; stir and cook, adding stock one ladle full at a time each time the pot is almost dry, until the rice is al dente (about 20 minutes); then add the squash, artichoke hearts, and pancetta with one ladle more of stock. Cook until hot and the rice is to your liking; add the cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Continue on as above.
If you are unfamiliar with artichokes, here is a great article from Simply Recipes and OceanMist which show you how to choose and prepare them. The best local artichokes come from Castorville CA, the artichoke capitol of the world (not really, Italy is, but they can claim it if they want to). If you can’t find them locally, you can order them on-line.
I’ve cooked a lot of dinners. So what do you do when you throw together a dinner and your husband of 24 years claims it to be one of your top 5?
When that same husband, who has been wined and dined at some of the best restaurants in the world, tells you it is one of the best things he has ever eaten?
That same husband who can name the three dishes that were, what could be considered a fail, that you have ever made?
Well, you write it down so you can make it again. Of course.
The idea for this recipe for Roasted Squash Artichoke Heart and Pancetta Risotto with Arugula Pesto started out innocently enough. I had some artichokes hearts left over in the refrigerator. Often BB and I will steam whole fresh artichokes, especially when they are newly in season, and chill them down, relishing the tender leaves with various dipping sauces. But we usually leave the hearts for another time. I use them to make dishes like Crab Shrimp and Artichoke Heart Quiche, or to cut up into a salad. But this time I wanted to make an artichoke risotto. Problem was, we went out to dinner the night before, and the dish BB had was Risotto Fra Diavolo. A spicy risotto with scallop and shrimps, that he loved, but none the less, he had just had risotto and I didn’t want to go back to back on him with another risotto.
What’s for dinner is a common question in my house. So when he called and asked the question, I told him I had been planning on an artichoke heart risotto, but since he had just had it …
“No problem” was his reply. “You make it better then they did anyway so make that. What do you plan to serve it with?”.
“Maybe a simple chicken breast?” I said.
“Hey, how about you put some pancetta into the risotto and serve a simple salad with it?” he said. “And you could put some seared scallop in the top.” he said, semi jokingly.
“You just had that – pretty much.”
I swear that man could eat scallops almost everyday.
As the day moves forward, I start thinking of how I could make the artichoke heart risotto more interesting. Adding pancetta was a good idea, what else could I do? I then thought of the taste and texture of butternut squash. Roasted. That would be a good addition. And from there, I thought of adding sage, or some other savory element. I have arugula growing in the garden, so how about I mix that in?
NO WAIT! I’ll make a pesto and put that around so it could be mixed in or eaten bite by bite. Yes, a full-bodied pesto would be perfect. Arugula, walnuts, a touch of lemon juice…
As I make my way to the store to get my missing ingredients, I decide if they have decent sea scallops, I’ll get a couple and put them on top of BB’s plate. He was seriously joking, NOT.
The scallops were beautiful. I bought three. What can I say…I love my husband.
I put this meal on the “very very good” side. Hubby top 5? IDK – might have been the scallops.
LindySez: I always make my risotto using the pressure cooker anymore. It makes no sense for me not to as it yields perfect results with very little effort; and I’m all about perfect results with little effort. And it only uses 2 cups of stock instead of the traditional 6 -8 cups. But if you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can make this the traditional way. And of course, you can also make this vegetarian. Simply omit the pancetta and use veggie stock instead of chicken stock.
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