Kabocha and Cranberry Risotto

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We love risotto. Once you get the hang of it, there are endless possibilities. Endless. Really, any winter squash is going to work in here, but the creamy texture of the kabocha is perfection. It’s a bit of struggle to peel the kabocha squash (which you may have had in Japanese restaurants as that tempura that wasn’t quire in your gluten eating days). I cut it into small-ish pieces, scooped the seeds and string bits out and then used the vegetable peeler until all green bits were gone.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
3/4 cup diced kabocha squash
1 cup arborio rice
3/4 cup dry white wine
4 cups simmering vegetable stock (I used a mixture of vegetarian chicken and mushroom)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
Pinch cinnamon
Handful of cranberries (Fresh for colour and if you’d like a tart punch; Dried for a bit of sweetness and chewy highlights)
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon non-dairy margarine
Chives or green onions, for finishing

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and sweat for about 10 minutes, until they are translucent. You don’t want them to brown – just gently cook. Once they have cooked down, add the squash and cook for a minute or so. Add the rice and combine with a wooden spoon until all the grains of rice are coated with oil. Wine goes in the pan next and the stirring begins. Once the wine has been absorbed into the rice, add 1/2 cup of stock and stir until it has been absorbed. Add the dried herbs. Keep an eye on the heat level and make sure you’re just sitting at a nice gentle bubble. Add the remaining stock a ladle at a time and constantly stir until the rice reaches al dente. As you’re approaching al dente, add the cranberries. You may not need all the stock, but it’s generally pretty close to a litre you’ll need. Once you’re at al dente, turn off the heat and stir in the nutritional yeast and margarine. Let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Top with chives or green onions and serve.

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