Is it me or has it got cold here of late? With the drop of temperature, most of our fruit and veg team taking their annual pilgrimage to their clothes drawers and pulling out their long johns, this must mean winter is nearing. With this in mind we have decided to pop the aptly named Winter Squash AKA the Butternut Squash into this weeks veg box.
This week I wanted a recipe that would for a short while make us forget about the cold by warming our core and thawing out our soles and I think I found the perfect one. It's a Jo Pratt recipe and is perfect for this time of year. For the recipe please read on. You can also order most of the other ingredients from our online store (see links in blue below).
You will need:
1 Butternut Squash
2 Garlic cloves
2 tbsp of Olive oil
15 Sage leaves
3 Knobs of Butter (or Vegan Pure)
1 large Onion
400g of Arborio Risotto Rice
2 glasses of White Wine
1 handful of grated Parmesan (vegan hard cheese) cheese
75g of Pine Nuts
All good recipes start with the turning on of the oven and this one is no exception. So please start off by preheating the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Feel free to stand near the oven for the first few minutes and warm up all your cold fingers and toes. Please, people, form an orderly queue.
Once you are at room temperature, take out the weird shaped veg we call the butternut squash, remove the skin and cut it into 6 to 8 wedges. Please don't worry about what the wedges look like as long as they are fairly even in size this is all that matters. Please remove the seeds at this point some people merely throw away the seeds but why bother when they contain vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, folate, potassium, calcium and iron. They can be baked for a lovely healthy snack and stored for a very long time. Pop the squash wedges into a roasting tray and find your garlic (anyone seen the garlic).
People have different ways of preparing garlic for the pot. I like taking my meat cleaver or the biggest fattest knife in the house and release a weeks worth of stress by pounding it until it resembles a garlicky mess. Of course remembering to remove the skin from the carcass afterwards. You can do that or simply cut the garlic clove into very small pieces. Take 2 cloves, do one of the above methods, add it to the squash tray. Also to the tray add a generous glug of olive oil, half the sage leaves (go on give it a smell first), a hearty pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
Now it's time to open the oven door. Please again feel free to stand back and enjoy the heat coming from the now roasting hot oven. Pop the baking tray into the oven, shut the door (sad days), roast for 40 to 50 minutes or until the squash has softened. It should now be golden in colour. You're now free for 40 to 50 minutes, use the time wisely, please be back in time as the oven waits for no one.
Once the time is up, the baking tray is out of the oven, leave it to one side to cool slightly. After a few minutes scrape the soft flesh away from the skin into a bowl. Take a fork and lightly mash until it is fairly chunky in texture. Please people do not leave the sticky juices in the tray. Pop the juices into the bowl you would be mad to leave them behind. Once this is all in the bowl and lightly mashed, pop a plate big enough to cover the bowl, leaving it to one side to keep warm whilst you make the risotto.
On the hob heat the olive oil and a knob of butter on a high to mid heat in a deep, heavy based frying pan. Please now locate the large onion and chop it as finely as you desire. Gently fry until the onion has softened. Add the risotto rice and stir for about a minute (it doesn't matter whether you stir clockwise, anti clockwise or even draw patterns with your wooden spoon, the important thing is you stir). We want the rice to be coated with oil and butter at this point. Pour in the wine (go on, have a cheeky sip, I won't tell if you don't) and stir continuously until it has cooked into the rice. Now add a ladle of hot stock and the remaining sage and season to taste with salt and pepper. Turn the heat down so the stock is now simmering gently. Right, now is the fun part, keep adding ladles of stock as it cooks into the rice. Always stirring and moving the rice around in the pan (by the time your done you will feel quite attached to those grains of rice). After about 15 to 20 minutes the rice should be soft but still have a bit of bite left in it. The texture of the risotto should be thick and creamy (surely when paired the two best words in the english language), but not too loose. If you're not happy with the texture please feel free to add more stock.
By now your legs might be aching, you might be ready to throw the tea towel in, but we are nearly there I promise. Remove the pan from the hob and gently stir into the risotto the roasted butternut squash, the parmesan, the remaining butter and season to taste. Cover with a lid or that handy large plate for a few minutes as this will make the risotto even more creamier (oh momma).
Whilst the lid or large plate is doing it's magic on the risotto use this time to place the pine nuts in a moderately hot frying pan and shake about until they are golden.
Spoon the risotto into warmed bowls (quick easy tip to winter dinning, warm your bowls and plates up before serving...duh) and scatter with the pine nuts and extra parmesan.
If you are an A star pupil you could add baked butternut squash seeds instead of the pine nuts as you used that 40 to 50 minute break to bake them. Most I presume will probably finish the bottle of wine or watch Netflix or do both. I'm not judging.
Anyway enjoy and stay warm.