Finding half a butternut squash in the fridge, and feeling as if I had eaten enough roast squash for one week, I thought I’d use it to make risotto. Antonio Carlucci’s An Invitation to Italian Cooking – from which I made my first really satisfactory risotto – didn’t have a recipe so I went to Claudia Roden’s infallible The Food of Italy, which turned up trumps. Her recipe for Pumpkin risotto doesn’t use the normal risotto method, though, so I was intrigued to see how it came out.
I used squash rather than pumpkin, amended the proportions to use less rice to the quantity of squash, and added grated nutmeg, because I think it goes so well with squash. Next time I might add some fried sage at the end, too, to make a herby, crispy contrast to the risotto. So, my version is probably not quite authentic, but it was a delicious and very comforting lunch on a cold spring Sunday, with a bowl of salad, and a piece of Lemon Polenta Cake to follow.
500g squash (or pumpkin)
1 onion, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
500ml stock (chicken or vegetable)
250g arborio rice
50g grated parmesan
Peel the squash, take out the seeds and fibres and cut into small cubes – my first effort left me with chunks rather too large to fit on my fork, so I cut them up a bit more in the pan. Fry the onion in the oil until it is soft.
Heat the stock in a large saucepan – I used guinea fowl stock that I had in the freezer (but a good chicken stock cube or Marigold powder would be fine).
Add the cubes of squash to the onion, stir about, pour over the milk and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook gently until tender – Claudia Roden suggests 5-15 minutes and my squash took about 12 minutes.
When the stock comes to the boil, add the rice and cook stirring for 18 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the rice is tender and has absorbed all the stock. You may need to add a bit more stock or some of the milk from the pumpkin pan towards the end, though I didn’t need to.
Once both are cooked stir the pumpkin mixture into the rice, milk and all. Add the butter and a good grating of nutmeg and heat through, stirring. Serve with grated parmesan and a green salad.
Verdict: less fuss than the normal risotto method but an equally delicious result. This may have been a dangerous discovery!