You’re not supposed to cook with Moscato. I learned that for the first time after submitting my book recipes for testing. (There’s a reason I call myself The Faux.) In the recipe notes they sent back, they mentioned their hesitancy to add Moscato to the soup, but that they were very pleased with the results. They even called it lovely.
I mistakenly landed on this faux pas 8 Thanksgiving’s ago. The gravy recipe called for a Dry Riesling. I picked up a Sweet Riesling, what I thought was a minor detail at the time, and made the best White Wine Gravy of my life. When I started working with Seven Daughters a couple years ago, I tried their Moscato in place of the Riesling and never looked back. In fact, I drove all over town one Thanksgiving in search of this beloved varietal. (I was out of town and away from my stash.) It’s the only one I allow in my white sauces.
If you’re a rule follower, don’t put this white wine in your next batch of Date Night Winter Risotto. Don’t do it! But if you don’t know the rules, like me, or don’t abide by the rules, like me, you can cook with your Seven Daughters Moscato and drink it too [insert dancing emoji here].
This risotto is creamy, sweet, savory, salty, and sharp. It’s sweet from the roasted butternut squash and red onion. It’s also sweet (not cloyingly sweet) from the Moscato, which is made from the naturally sweet Muscat Blanc grape. It goes really well with savory dishes and spicy, peppery dishes. When thinking about Moscato, think about complimentary colors—colors that are opposite from each other on the color wheel. That’s how Moscato works too. Sweet + spicy. Savory + sweet.
Since Kev and I are failing at planning dates out, we’re trying the whole date night in thing, inspired by Not Without Salt. He’s a secret Moscato drinker, so I knew he’d love this risotto. And he did. I love it too because it requires little to no thought. The risotto itself is a blank slate, just don’t skip the white wine if you can help it. (It’s chilly out, so if you’re not going to drink a whole bottle, try the cans. Use code FAUX7D for 20% off your Seven Daughters purchase from uncorked.com.) Contrary to popular belief, risotto doesn’t need constant stirring as long as you add more liquids before it dries out. Though, maybe that’s The Faux talking. The roasted vegetables sit in the oven and cook to perfection without a thought. This date night in recipe is lovely, if I do say so myself. Just add fire and floor pillows.
a couple sprigs of fresh thyme, plus more for garnish
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 c. finely diced sweet onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 c. arborio rice
1/4 c. Seven Daughters Moscato
2 c. stock, plus more as needed
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
2 tbsp. parmesan, plus more for garnishing
2 tbsp. heavy cream
2 strips of bacon
handful of arugula
fresh cracked pepper
Prepare the roasted vegetables. Preheat the oven to 450° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Add the cut squash and onions to the baking sheet. Add all the other roasted vegetable ingredients and toss to combine. Bake for 30-40 minutes, tossing halfway through. Cook until lightly charred.
Meanwhile, make the risotto. In a small sauce pan over medium heat, add the oil and prepared onions. Cook for 3 minutes or until translucent. Add the garlic and a pinch of salt, and cook for 30 seconds more. Pour in the rice and wine, stirring to coat. Turn heat down to low to produce a simmer. Add the stock 1/2 cup at a time until nearly absorbed, checking every 5-8 minutes or so. Stir only if needed. This will take 20-30 minutes. Once all the stock has been added, taste to check the texture. Add additional stock as needed. The rice should be cooked through and creamy. At the very end, stir in the parmesan and heavy cream. Cook until just incorporated. Remove from heat.
About 10 minutes before serving, prepare the garnishes. On a preheated cast iron skillet over medium heat, add the bacon, cutting in half if need to fit. Cook until crispy on both sides. Remove from the pan to a paper towel. Chop roughly into strips. Evenly divide the risotto between two bowls. Top with the roasted vegetables, bacon, arugula, and additional parmesan. Add a couple fresh thyme leaves and cracked pepper if desired. Serve.