Butternut squash and saffron risotto for a savory entree on Meatless Monday

Categories: Vegetarian

​​No one's saying you have to go meatless just because it's Monday -- but as incentive to join the growing movement, every week we're offering an animal-free recipe.

If you think you can't enjoy creamy, rich foods like risotto on a plant-based diet, this recipe will prove you wrong. The saffron and butternut squash give it a vibrant color and a warm flavor. Like any risotto, it's time-consuming, but the results are well worth the effort.

We've said it before, and we'll say it again: Making your own broth is always optimal -- and if you're going to go through all the trouble of stirring for such a long time, you might as well do the dish justice with some good broth. We used three potatoes, three carrots, four onions, two heads of garlic, a half a bundle of parsley, four bay leaves, a pinch of salt, two pinches of thyme and several pinches of turmeric. Place all ingredients in a large pot, fill with water until covered, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, covered, for an hour; strain the veggies out of the broth before using. This makes more than enough for the risotto, but you can easily freeze the rest for later use; it's a savory broth that you can use to replace vegetable or even chicken stock in many recipes.

You will need:

1 3-pound butternut squash
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
6 cups vegetable broth
5 tablespoons vegan butter (Earth Balance is our brand of choice)
4-5 shallots (enough for one cup minced)
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
2/3 cup white wine (the drier, the better)
1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
a pinch saffron threads
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

1. Stab your squash ten to twelve times and place directly on the oven rack for about ten minutes (don't forget the potholders when you're pulling it out of the oven!). This will soften it up and make it a lot easier to peel and cube.

2. Peel the squash and cut into bite-sized cubes; toss in a bowl with three tablespoons olive oil and one teaspoon salt until evenly coated.

3. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and spread the oil-coated squash in a single layer on the sheet. Bake for fifteen minutes while you work on the rest of the risotto.

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