I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: risotto is a treat to cook.
It couldn’t be easier to make and requires minimal ingredients. I’m lucky enough to have some amazing rice – a variety called baldo, straight from the growing region. My step-dad went on a business trip and the people he met out there gave him loads as a gift. Whether you can get or find baldo or not (I’m sure in delis and some supermarkets they’ll have it), the way you cook the rice is important. My top tips are use lots of butter / oil, stir often (but not constantly) and hot stock – I keep my stock hot in a separate pan on the hob. I find you end up with a creamier risotto, yet the individual grains remain more intact.
This one, with sweet roasted cubes of butternut squash, meaty mushrooms and creamy dolcelatte, is an absolute delight. It’s perfect for a ‘Meat-free Monday’ or any day you fancy something a bit lighter – I personally don’t subscribe to one day of the week, sometimes I’ll have multiple veggie meals a week, sometimes not. Anyway, that aside, I absolutely love this risotto – perfect flavour and textural combo.
I purposefully made extra as it tastes even better the next day – great for a filling, warming packed lunch!
300g risotto rice
1 x stock cube (I use Kallo organic) dissolved in 500ml boiling water
1 x medium white onion, diced
1 x garlic clove
Fresh or dried thyme
Salt and pepper
Butter and oil for cooking the onions and rice
1 x box of chestnut mushrooms (about 250-300g), sliced
1 tsp dried herbs
1 x garlic clove
1 x medium butternut squash, cubed
1 tsp dried thyme
1tsp dried oregano
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
1/2 tsp cumin
Salt and pepper
Sunflower / vegetable oil for roasting
Dolcelatte, cubed for serving
Parmesan, grated for serving
Fresh herbs – optional, for serving
1) Preheat the oven to 180. While it’s heating, prepare your squash. I peel it first, cut the top and bottom off – slice the top section, then cut the rounder bottom bit in half. Scoop out the seeds (reserve for roasting, if you like), then diced up into 2-3cm cubes.
2) Put the cubed squash onto a roasting tray with about 1-2tbsp oil, plus all the herbs and spices listed underneath it. Mix up with your hands. Then put in the oven to roast. They should take about 40 minutes.
3) Dice your onion, sauté it in a heavy bottomed pan with butter, olive oil, seasoning and thyme, for about 8-10 minutes until they’re softened but not browned. Meanwhile prepare your stock and put it in a separate pan on a low heat. Once the onions are done, add your rice. Stir until coated in butter/oil, and cook for about two minutes until translucent.
4) Begin adding your stock gradually, ladel by ladel – stir intermittently and don’t add the next ladel until the previous is fully absorbed. You should see the starch start to release straight away.
5) Slice your mushrooms, cook in a large frying pan (with the ingredients listed underneath it) over a medium-high heat until nicely browned. Set aside.
6) After about 20 minutes, check your rice. If it is still too crunchy, continue with the process of adding more stock and stirring. Once you’re happy with the rice, stir in your mushrooms and cubes of butternut. Taste and check the season, adjust as necessary.
7) Serve in bowls with dolcelatte, parmesan and fresh herbs, if you like – rocket would also be nice too. Enjoy!