A plate of bright butternut squash and sage risotto

Comforting butternut squash and sage risotto

A plate of bright butternut squash and sage risotto

I’m having a thing with risotto at the moment. It’s getting me through winter. Risotto is comfortingly versatile and filling. So far I’ve tried prawn and pea and mushroom and salmon, once you have the basics sorted (Arborio rice, good stock and the ability to stand and stir) the world is your oyster, oooh that might be an idea…..

It can take a bit of time to make, that will be stirring in the stock until its absorbed, then repeating for maybe 30 minutes or so. I once shared a flat with an Italian lady who made her risotto by walking away from the stock seeped, rice filled pan. I was amazed that she did that and she was amazed that I was amazed. She either had a magic pan or a hand-me-down family recipe very particular to her part of region in Italy – the non stirring part of the country.

The thing about stirring is that it can be a nice opportunity for some mindfulness, just standing and focusing on the rice, the stock and the spoon. Try emptying your mind of all other thoughts and stir. See how long you can go without being distracted by your thoughts.

For this week’s risotto I wanted to do something seasonal. I went to my trusty website www.eattheseasons.co.uk and found that butternut squash is good right now. Buying in season means it’s grown in the UK (cutting down the travel miles) and hopefully cheap. I looked up some recopies and found sage roasted butternut squash risotto or a saffron simmered version.

Given how expensive saffron is, it’s a good thing that I don’t like it. But I also didn’t want to add the 40 or so minutes roasting time to making the dish, so I’ve spliced the two recipes together to create my own.

Sage and butternut squash for risotto recipe

I used good low sodium bullion for my stock and made this glorious, rich, tasty winter rice dish. You probably won’t need to use all the 1.5 litres, but I like to have extra so that I don’t run out before the rice is fully cooked.

The recipe calls for butter, it’s a saturated fat, but we do it in moderation (I don’t eat it often, so I figure I can use it here) in one of the final steps towards the end of the cooking time I’ll leave it to you to determine how much more  you want to add for the additional creamy effect.

I didn’t have any wine, but I did have sherry in the store cupboard (I think I picked up that booze-in-cupboard habit from my Italian flatmate) it did the trick and smells lovely when you first pour it in.

Buon appetito.

Healthy risotto recipe with seasonal veg

Butternut squash risotto prep- 15 min, cook 40 min

Serves 2

1 or 1 and a half litres veg stock

2 cloves garlic

Spice/herb

2 tbsp white wine

1 tsp tomato puree

250-300g squash (small)

50g butter

100g rice

25g parsley

25g parmesan

Put two table spoons of wine, garlic, puree and sage into the stock, bring it to boil then simmer for 10 min.

Peel and cut squash into 1cm pieces, add these to the stock. Simmer for another 10 min. Remove from heat and take the garlic out.

Melt half the butter in a pan, add the rice, coat well. Fry on gentle heat for 1 min then add one table spoon of wine. Once it has bubbled, add a ladle of stock and stir.

For the next 20-30 minutes or so, continue to add a stock and stir until each ladle of stock is absorbed. About 5 minutes before the end of cooking the risotto (the rice is cooked and you still have some stock left in the pan), stir in the butternut squash with some stock, for about 5 minutes.

Your risotto should be creamy and delicious by now. To make it creamier, you can add the rest of the butter.  Then season and add parmesan. For more colour and flavour, you can throw in the parsley at this point.

Be fit. Be well. Be happy.

 

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