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Butternut Squash Cheesy Rice with Sausage Serves 4-6

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Ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 small yellow onion, minced

5 garlic cloves, minced

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

¾ pound (3 to 4 links) uncooked sweet Italian turkey sausage, casings removed

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1½ cups short grain brown rice

4 cups cubed butternut squash (cut into ½ -inch cubes)

4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth 

3 sprigs fresh thyme plus 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, divided

6-8 fresh sage leaves

1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 cup grated Fontina cheese

Freshly ground black pepper (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or large sauté pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot and shimmering, add the onion, garlic, and salt, and cook for about 5 minutes or until the onions are very soft and translucent. Add the sausage and cinnamon and cook, stirring and breaking up the meat into small pieces with a spatula, for about 5 minutes or until no longer pink. Add the brown rice and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly, to toast the grains.
  2. Stir in the butternut squash cubes, and then add the vegetable broth, thyme sprigs, and sage leaves. Bring to a boil, then immediately lower to a simmer. Cover with a lid and cook for 35 minutes until the rice is just tender, the butternut squash is soft, and most of the liquid has been absorbed. (You still want a little liquid in the pan to help create the creamy texture of the finished rice.)
  3. Remove the thyme sprigs and sage leaves with a fork and discard. (Careful, they’re hot!). Give the rice a really good stir, breaking down some of the butternut squash cubes. (Your rice will have a risotto-like consistency.) 
  4. Turn off the heat and stir in the Parmesan and Fontina cheeses, then stir in the thyme leaves. Taste and season with a little extra salt if needed and freshly ground black pepper (if using). Serve warm.

TIP: Cut prep time in half by buying pre-cubed fresh or frozen butternut squash.

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