Autumnal comfort…

by Sunita on October 1, 2008

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.

What’s needed-

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

How to-

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Stir in the cheese, mix well, and remove from heat.
  5. 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.

A spoonful of autumnal comfort

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Divya Vikram October 1, 2008 at 10:03 pm

Looks like comfort food!


2 Gretchen Noelle October 1, 2008 at 11:58 pm

Yum! Yum! Yum! I have been craving this lately!


3 SPICE OF LIFE October 2, 2008 at 1:44 am

the creamy risotto looks so tempting …. the photographs are amazing :-)


4 Swati Raman Garg October 2, 2008 at 3:44 am

amazing pics as always… and u know rite i have become a fan of all that u create….


5 Happy cook October 2, 2008 at 5:07 am

I have never made or had risotto.
Don’t know why.
Here to it is bad weather, and today there is lot of wind.


6 Sia October 2, 2008 at 8:09 am

yummy, i say coz this is what we had day before yest for dinner :) only diff being i added roasted butternut squash to our risotto :)


7 Meeta October 2, 2008 at 8:51 am

ahh! the comforts of risotto!! you know these are my faves LOL! and pumpkin/squash is such a great partner for warm comforting autumn risottos. the version on my blog is with shrimps and hokkaido. nice one sunita!


8 ANJALI J. October 2, 2008 at 12:46 pm

always love ur recipes, gal! i never miss those tempting pictures. just cant take my eyes off them lol!


9 Sukanya Ramkumar October 2, 2008 at 3:34 pm

This is so soothing. Perfect for winter days. YUM!… nice pictures…


10 sunita October 2, 2008 at 6:22 pm

It is indeed comfort food :-)

Isn’t this such a delightful dish :-)

spice of life,
Thank you :-)

awww, thank you :-)

happy cook,
It’s been very windy in our neck of the woods as well…try making risottos…you’re sure to love it..simple to make, and with a host of possibilities.


11 sunita October 2, 2008 at 6:30 pm

This is indeed a wonderful dish, isn’t it? In fact, i thought of roasting the squash as well…a bit lazy to do it :-)

Yes, there is something so soothing about risottos…never fails to lift up my spirits…will check out your versions :-)

Thanks you :-)

Thank you :-)


12 Usha October 2, 2008 at 6:59 pm

Sounds perfect for a cold chilly evening…beautiful pics too :)


13 Choosy Beggar Tina October 2, 2008 at 8:56 pm

I’m so excited to have come across your blog!! I love that you’re as enamoured with different flavours and styles of cooking as I am. I really can’t wait to check back and see what other goodies you’ll be posting in the future. Thank you!


14 The Housewife October 2, 2008 at 9:33 pm

Your risotto looks really nice!


15 Priya October 3, 2008 at 11:10 pm

oooh, that looks ultra comforting Sunita, I wish I could grab that spoon from you hand :) and thank you for saying any kind of rice is okay, will start experimenting now :D


16 sunita October 5, 2008 at 2:31 pm

Thanks :-)

choosy beggar tina,
Thsnk you…glad that you like this space :-)

the housewife,
Thanks :-)

Thanks…we did love it indeed…and yes, do not be scared to experiment..but, of course, remember that differnt kinds of rice lend a different texture.


17 ttfn300 October 5, 2008 at 5:23 pm

ultimate comfort!!


18 Mike of Mike's Table October 14, 2008 at 2:24 am

Its a classic flavor and a great one. It looks wonderful and sounds delicious


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