What a blustery start to the day we had today! Just before the kid’s school time, it rained cats and dogs. Rengoni’s class was going on a trip today, and I too was a bit disappointed; she and her mates have been looking forward to this trip so much. But, then, within moments, the skies cleared and we were even able to bike to their school. Sometimes, I am glad that the English weather is so fickle…it means that that one can really hope for clear skies in minutes after a very heavy downpour
Now, butternut squash is one vegetable, which all four of us really adore. The sweet and nutty taste of this vegetable and the multitude of ways in which it can be used makes it most desirable. Whether it is roasted, or pureed for soup, or used to bake cakes/muffins, or added to curries, it lends it’s special flavours. It can easily be used interchangeably with other types of pumpkin. In fact, we consume more butternut squash than pumpkin.
In the UK, the butternut squash season starts from September, and we have already started gorging on them. Today I made a simple butternut squash risotto for dinner.
I usually have mixed feelings about the way I prepare risottos, and I hope the purists will excuse me for taking liberties with this dish. Sometimes you will find me putting in the liquid all at once, and sometimes I have also chucked everything into the oven. I have also used different varieties of rice to make it and did not confine it to only arborio. But, there are, of course, occasions, when I love to stand over the stove top and cook it, stirring, adding the stock, a little at a time, and taking in the lovely aromas as I do so, and also cook it with the traditional Italian grain. This was one of those days, or rather evenings. Due to some engagements during the day, dinner was not ready in advance and seeing that the kids were keeping themselves rather well engaged, I decided to go the standing, stirring, pouring way. Somehow I find it therapeutic, at times. And at the end of it all, serving ladlefuls of the creamy and flavourful risotto and seeing everyone enjoy every spoonful, made all the trouble worthwhile.
1/2 of a medium sized butternut squash, peeled and chopped
2 C of arborio rice
2 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 inch of ginger, finely chopped
1 tblsp of Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp crushed red chillies(more or less)
1 bay leaf
8C of chicken/vegetable stock (approximately)
3 tblsp of grated cheddar cheese
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Heat the oil in a deep pan and add the onions, ginger and garlic. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly and cook till the onions are translucent.
- Add the butternut squash with a pinch of salt and cook for 2 minutes. Add the rice, Italian seasoning, crushed red chillies and fry for another 2-3 minutes…keep stirring constantly to avoid browning.
- Add 2 and 1/2 C of the stock, bay leaf and bring to a boil. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook, stirring every now and then till the liquid is reduced considerably (do not let it dry out completely). Keep adding the rest of the stock in a couple of installments, stirring and cooking till the rice is done. The squash will also be cooked by then.
- Stir in the cheese, mix well, and remove from heat.
- Serve hot.
The warmth from the risotto was the perfect end to a chilly and blustery autumnal day. All the flavours came through delightfully in our bowls.