Each week, I buy a pack or two, of ready prepared butternut squash and enjoy using them in a variety of dishes, this being one of those dishes. I often make it in the caravan, with ease.
I especially love making this risotto in Autumn (my favourite season!) when I can find fresh squashes.
I prefer wholegrains, and haven’t yet discovered a wholegrain risotto rice but have found an Italian wholegrain, quick-cook rice which, if overcooked and left to rest in the saucepan for a few minutes, is convincingly like risotto rice and becomes creamy with a bite.
I also love making this risotto with mixed grains, again, slightly overcooked so they become creamy and luscious.
Prep and Cook Time: Over 1 hour
Cookware: Small roasting tray (foil-covered) and medium saucepan
Oven: 200C / Gas 6
- 350g cubed sweet potato / butternut squash (or just butternut)
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
- pinch chilli flakes and salt flakes – to taste
- 120g easy cook wholegrain rice (or arborio or mixed grains)
- 2 shallots – finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove – crushed
- 600ml hot vegetable stock
- 100ml white wine / vermouth (optional)
- 2 generous handfuls spinach leaves
- heaped tbsp torn herbs (basil / thyme / oregano / parsley)
- 40g parmesan – grated
- 1 tsp butter
- salt / pepper
- toasted pine nuts or roughly chopped pistachios (optional)
In a bowl, coat the squash with the oil and spices then turn onto your foiled tray. Pop in oven 200C / Gas 6 for 25 minutes. The squash needs to be soft enough to mash and slightly charred.
Pour a tbsp oil into a saucepan, gently sauté shallots until soft then add the garlic, gently cook for a minute. Pour in the rice and lightly sauté, coating and toasting the rice whilst stirring for 3 minutes.
If using wine, pour in now, stir and cook for a minute to evaporate the alcohol then gradually add 200ml of the stock. Stir and allow the rice to absorb the stock before adding another 200ml.
Repeat until 600ml of stock has been used and your rice is cooked through and slightly creamy.
Keep stirring and don’t allow the rice to dry out or stick to the saucepan base. Add a little more stock or water to prevent the rice sticking to the pan and make sure it’s not only cooked through but creamy too.
This process can take 20 – 40 minutes, depending on the rice.
When the butternut is golden, put 2/3’s into a bowl and mash well. Put the other 1/3 aside.
Once the rice is cooked and creamy, add the spinach and allow to wilt. Over a low heat, add herbs, mashed butternut, a knob of butter and 2/3’s of parmesan. If required, add a splash of water or extra stock to help mix into a creamy risotto.
Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Keep stirring and warm through. I like to allow the risotto to rest for a couple of minutes before serving.
Spoon your creamy risotto into warmed bowls, top with the 1/3 of roasted butternut cubes and the remaining parmesan. Sprinkle with herbs and chopped nuts. I like to serve with a side of green veggies.
Enjoy – I love this dish!