The past two years Scott and I have spent Thanksgiving cozied up in our previous Denver apartment. Having always spent the holidays split between our families, it was a kind of a treat getting to be with just one another. Last year was extra special because Colorado decided to give us a full-fledged snow storm on Thanksgiving Day. I’ll never forget watching the Thanksgiving Day parade on TV while snow was falling. So magical. However, I will gladly settle for rainy, cool weather here in southern California. Which is what this past weekend brought us and made everything feel all sorts of holiday-y. Instead of spending this long weekend together here in California, though, we will be heading to Phoenix to be with our wonderful families (HEY guys – so excited to see you soon!). So our humble and small Thanksgiving meals from the past two years will look a bit more traditional this year (although I’m bound to whip up a new veggie dish or two).
In the spirit of modest holiday meals, I wanted to bring you this cozy meal for two in case you are in our previous shoes and keeping your cooking simple this weekend. This is also a great option for any date night (or best friend night) where it just feels right to snuggle up on the couch with a glass of wine and a bowl of something that makes your autumn soul sing. I have been all about these cute little honeynut squash ever since stumbling upon them a few weeks ago. I tend to steam mine up and scoop out their sweet flesh for a snack with some hummus in the afternoons. But when I was turning through my old recipe pages from last year and came across my butternut risotto I had created for a publication, I knew I had to try it with this teeny-tiny squash and bring it to you here. But fear not, if you cannot find a honeynut – butternut puree will be just as swell. Topped with a crispy brussels sprout sauté with chestnuts, garlic, and sage – this dish is my kind of comfort food. And unlike traditional risotto, it all comes together in under 30 minutes – making the chances of me enjoying a few more bowlfuls of this very likely this season.
I hope those of you celebrating the American holiday this week have a sincerely wonderful time with your family and friends. I’m thankful for the mere fact that I have so much to be thankful for this year. I think if I tried to express my gratitude in it’s entirety I would explode into a thousand little pieces saying “thank you!”. So thank you, to each one of you for following along with me in this journey on FW. I hope to give back to you in a few exciting new ways this next month (stay tuned) but I never want to stop taking the time to thank you with my words. Because I really am so gosh darn grateful for you, okay? Stay cozy and full of gratitude, in all things, at all times. – xx
HONEYNUT RISOTTO + BRUSSELS SPROUT & CHESTNUT SAUTÉ
Makes 2 cozy servings.
for the risotto
1 tablespoon quality olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, minced
1/2 cup jasmine rice (see note)
2 cups vegetable stock
1 butternut squash (1/2 to 3/4 cup puree)
for the sauté
8 to 10 brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons quality olive oil
1/2 cup steamed chestnuts (see note)
1 large garlic clove, minced
3 to 4 large, fresh sage leaves
sea salt & pepper
Begin with the risotto. Place a seamer basket in a medium sauce pot and fill with 2 inches of fresh water. Turn the burner on high to bring the water to a simmer while you prepare the butternut squash. Trim the ends of the squash and slice in half. Scoop out the seeds. Place the butternut in the steamer basket with the cut sides down. Cover and reduce the heat to medium-high. Let the squash steam for 10 to 12 minutes. It should be soft and easily pierced with a fork. Remove and let cool enough to handle before scooping out the soft flesh into a bowl. Mash with the back of a fork until “pureed” smooth.
Add the olive oil and minced onion to a medium saucepan/pot and cook over medium-low heat. Allow the onion to sauté until soft and translucent (about 5 minutes). Add the rice, butternut squash puree, and vegetable stalk. Season with salt. Stir well until everything is fully incorporated, and turn to high heat to bring the risotto mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer and cover with a lid. Let cook for 20 minutes. During the last five minutes of cooking, remove the lid and stir well – scraping the bottom of the pot to make sure nothing is sticking. Let cook uncovered for the last five minutes, stirring once every minute, until thick and creamy.
Once the risotto is in the pot cooking above, prepare the sauté. Slice the brussels sprouts in half and place in the steamer basket used above for the honeynut squash. Bring the water to a boil, cover, and let steam for 5 minutes. Remove from the stove, place a 10 inch cast iron skillet in it’s place, and add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Heat on medium to medium-high. Add each brussels sprout to the pan with the cut side facing down. Fry until golden brown underneath (about 8 minutes). Slice the steamed chestnuts in half and add them to the pan along with the minced garlic. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Give everything a good toss and let cook for another 2 to 4 minutes to allow the chestnuts and garlic to brown. Finely chop the fresh sage and add to the pan during the last minute of cooking, tossing to incorporate. At this time the risotto will be just finishing up as well.
Divide the butternut risotto between two plates/bowls and top with equal amounts of the brussels sauté. Enjoy right away, and in a perfect world – with a glass of wine.
NOTE: Jasmine rice cooks up nice and quick, however if you wish to use brown rice make these adjustments: all to cook covered for the full 20 minutes, then remove the lid and continue to cook for an additional 15 to 20 minutes uncovered – stirring well every 5 minutes – until thick and creamy. As for the chestnuts, I purchased pre-steamed chestnuts to cut preparation time for this dish. If you prefer to purchase and steam your own from scratch, feel free to do so.