baked risotto


Risotto is the ultimate comfort food. And it has endless possibilities. But I hardly ever make it because the 30 minutes of standing and stirring is too daunting for most weeknights.

A recipe for leek and squash risotto in the December issue of Bon Appetit inspired me recently, though, and seemed like a good way to use up both leeks and a butternut squash. It was my intention to follow it exactly, until I had finished chopping veg, had a cranky, tired baby on my hands that needed to be snuggled, and it was already 7:00. I wanted to be able to pop something in the oven and come back to it being finished a half-hour later. So I googled “baked squash risotto” and found this recipe here.

I used leeks in place of shallots and, since I didn’t have any kale, I chopped up a couple of wilting broccoli crowns and tossed those in. It made an absurd amount but leftover risotto is never a problem — mixed with some eggs, parmesan and dry bread crumbs, they make nice little risotto cakes (cook ’em just like pancakes in a bit of olive oil). Good toddler food.

baked risotto

– Dinah Murdoch lives, eats and writes in Kitchener.

baby risotto


So, I call this baby meal “Baby Risotto,” but it isn’t, really. All it really is, is tarted-up rice cereal, but my boy loves it. And it’s a good vehicle for hiding vegetables when I feel he would reject them if presented with them straight-up, which is often. It’s a fast, foolproof little person meal.

To make this recipe, you’ll need some ground up rice. I buy organic brown rice and put it in the blender and grind it until it’s nice and fine. You can do this ahead and keep a jar of the stuff in your fridge. (I actually use a Magic Bullet for grinding, which was a gift to me and has turned out to be one of the greatest little kitchen appliances I’ve ever owned.)

To make, put 1 cup of water in a little pot and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to a simmer and stir in 1/4 cup of your ground rice and stir until you’ve got a nice, smooth consistency — just a few mintues. Stir in some grated cheese (or smooth cheese, like goat) to taste.

Here’s where you can get creative adding in whatever veg you’ve got in your fridge. Last night, I used some of this week’s spinach, which I chopped up into thin ribbons, and some tomatoes that I oven roasted, then froze. But you could use anything else, like maybe some of your broccoli, chopped up small, or grated beet, carrot or sweet potato (in which case you’d want to saute them first, until nice and soft, then add the water and the rice). You could roast some of your dumpling squash ahead and stir it in. For something breakfast-y, you could omit the cheese and add cinnamon and grated apple — maybe even a drizzle of maple syrup.

Irv, my 13-month-old, opens his mouth wide like a little bird for this stuff. He likes it so much he forgets to wrestle me for the spoon. I often save this idea for his Friday night supper, when I am fully out of ideas, ambition and want to just get him fed, and fast.

baby risotto

– Dinah Murdoch lives, eats and writes in Kitchener.