Shut your eyes for a moment and think of autumn. What do you see? I see fall colours and pumpkins and squashes and right now we are in the middle of squash season and I love it!
For any Simpsons fans among us, I always have a little giggle to myself when I recall Homer thinking he has cottoned on to a good thing and invests heavily in pumpkins and loses everything when he fails to sell before Hallowe’en! Thankfully there are a million things you could better be doing with your squashes! One of the most versatile vegetables as well as one of the most diverse there probably isn’t much you couldn’t do with a squash or a pumpkin. Even raw you can hollow them out and make a lantern out of them, keeping the seeds and baking them with a little olive oil and some sea salt to make a healthy and nutritious snack! Plus they are full of goodness.
This recipe usese pan roasted squash to bring a delightful sweet and nutty taste to a risotto. The addition of West Cork Smoked Garlic (http://www.westcorkgarlic.com/index.html) and sage to me is the ultimate comfort food. Just perfect to eat with a fork in front of a roaring fire with your cosiest socks on!
Ingredients (feeds 2 generously as a main):
- Squash: any kind will do – butternut, pumpkin or normal squash about 400g peeled, deseeded and cut into inch square(ish) pieces
- 3 cloves of smoked garlic
- Handful of sage leaves
- 2 celery stick (and the tops if you have them)
- 4 shallots
- 1 cup of risotto rice
- 500ml of vegetable stock
- 100ml of dry white wine
- 2 fresh bay leaves or 1 dried
- Parmesan cheese (or something similar: peccorino, gran padano etc)
- Butter and olive oil
- Smoked sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper
- In a pan, heat some olive oil and butter.
- Smash the garlic cloves with the back of a knife in their skins. Add the garlic, squash and a few of the whole fresh sage leave into the pan.
- Cook over a gentle heat tossing every now and again. After about 15 minutes, the squash should be cooked through: soft but maintaining its shape.
- While the squash is cooking, heat some more olive oil into a pan/casserole dish.
- Add in the chopped celery stalks and tops; shallots and bay. Cook gently until softened.
- Add in the risotto rice and cover with the oil and onion mix. Cook out for a couple of minutes stirring all the time.
- Add in the white wine and stir until the rice has soaked it all up.
- Then begin to add the stock a little at a time and stirring constantly until all the liquid has been absorbed by the rice. This will be quick each time at first and gradually take longer as the rice absorbs morre and more liquid. This will probably take a good 15 – 20 minutes. The rice should be holding its shape and the “sauce” should be neither loose nor dry nor stodgy but instead unctious and yielding.
- Once the rice has softened, add in the squash, garlic and sage leaves from the frying pan and stir to combine.
- Chop the remaining sage and add this to the pan along with salt and pepper to taste.
- Remove the bay leaves and grate in a load of cheese and two knobs of butter which will help to give the risotto a lovely shine.
- Spoon onto warmed plates and using a vegetable peeler drop strips of parmesan all over the top of the pile of risotto.
- Finish with a final grind of black pepper, serve immediately and….Enjoy!