This butternut squash and porcini mushroom risotto highlights the “meaty” savory flavor of mushrooms and the sweetness from the butternut squash, all tied together with porcini sea salt.
Risotto is comfort food to me. It’s family, happy Sunday dinners and wine. It’s the eager anticipation of the late afternoon meal as its smell permeates the house. It’s an excuse to put a-whole-lotta parmesan cheese on my meal because that’s just what you do with risotto.
Sunday risotto has been a meal too many times to count as the weather turns colder and our bodies crave comfort in my family, a meal my grandma would make years ago before my mom took over the reins.
Just over two months ago, as I briefly mentioned on here, my grandma was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
She braved a complicated surgery, recovered pretty well for an almost 85 year old, made it home only to have a stroke 3 days later.
She was in recovery from that for a few days when her body seemed to just start failing her.
As I was making this risotto last week, I couldn’t help but think of the irony of making a meal with such deep roots in family while my grandmother is literally living out her final days in hospice care.
It’s a really weird thing essentially knowing death is on the doorstep for someone you love. You’re sort of in this half grieving/half cherishing mode where nothing really feels like it’s the “right” thing to do.
When SaltWorks® asked if I would like to use one of their salts in a recipe to share with you guys a few months ago, I eagerly said yes.
A fall risotto playing off the traditional one my family has made for years instantly came to mind and I was excited to experiment.
I had no idea as I stood over the stove, mixing the rice (something my mom and grandma never did, but I think adds more creaminess to the end result) there would be tears streaming down my face as I remembered all the good times with my grandma during Sunday dinners of previous years.
Porcini mushrooms have always been the base of our family risotto but usually accompanied by sausage and saffron.
Once I saw SaltWorks had a wild porcini sea salt as part of their Fusion® Salt Sampler I knew I was going to keep the porcini base but I also wanted to go a little lighter with this version keeping it meat free and highlighting my favorite winter squash, butternut.
The result was the perfect balance of deep flavor from the “meaty” mushrooms and sweetness from the squash, tied together with the sharp, yet flavorful porcini sea salt.
I’m pretty sure grandma would’ve loved it and while we can’t share Sunday dinners any longer, I take comfort in the memories and the inspiration they create.
For more savory mushroom centered meals like this risotto, try this creamy vegan mushroom risotto and this wild mushroom soup as well. This corn and red pepper risotto is another vegetarian version with big comforting vibes.
Butternut Squash and Porcini Mushroom Risotto
- 1/2 cup dried porcini mushrooms
- 1 cup warm water
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 8 ounces mixed mushrooms shiitake, oyster, portobello, button, roughly chopped
- 1 1/2 tablespoons butter divided
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil divided
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme divided
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 medium yellow onion finely chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cups diced butternut squash
- 1/2 teaspoon wild porcini sea salt + more for garnish
- 1 1/2 cups short grain brown rice
- 1 cup white wine
- 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- black pepper to taste
- In a small bowl, combine the dried porcini mushrooms and the warm water. Let soak for about 15 minutes. Squeeze the excess water from the mushrooms, saving the water. Chop the porcinis and set aside.
- Combine the mushroom water and chicken broth in a small sauce pan on the stove. Keep warm over medium-low heat.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, add 1/2 tablespoon of the butter, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon of the thyme and the garlic. SautÃ© for about 1 minute until fragrant. Add the chopped mixed mushrooms (not the porcinis) and sautÃ© for about 10 minutes, only stirring once or twice until the mushrooms start to caramelize. Set aside.
- In a large stock pot or dutch oven, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the bay leaf over medium-high heat.
- Add the squash, onions, chopped porcini mushrooms and 1/2 teaspoon of the wild porcini sea salt. Cook for about 7 minutes until the squash starts to become tender.
- Add the rice to the pot and stir “toasting” the rice for about 2 minutes.
- Add the wine to the pot next and cook until it evaporates.
- Ladle the broth that’s been keeping warm into the pot until it covers the top of the rice. Lower the heat to medium. Let the mixture cook, stirring occasionally until the broth starts to drop below the top of the rice. Add more broth to cover the top and repeat until all the broth is gone, stirring as you go. With the last ladle of broth, add the cooked mixed mushroom mixture to the pot and stir.
- Once all the broth is absorbed by the rice, remove from the heat and add the remaining thyme, the sage, the parmesan cheese, black pepper and more wild porcini sea salt to taste.
- Serve immediately garnishing with thyme, sage and/or more wild porcini sea salt.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.
Gina Matsoukas is the writer, founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients as much as possible. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.