Autumn, harvest time. Also time for comfort food, large bowls of steaming soup and wholesome bread. One of my favourite things about this time of year are the squashes, orange, yellow and gnarly green globes – they shine out at me in the greengrocers, begging to be made into a hearty dish or two.
One of my favourite recipes to make during this season, is squash and brown rice risotto – choosing not to use traditional risotto rice but long grain brown rice instead. A healthier option and has a nutty taste which I feel goes so well with the squash.
I love to make a large batch, and freezing some for weekday lunches, when I’m busy working at home. A steaming bowl of this is a perfect pick-me-up, and helps me focus on the afternoon chores.
It is so simple to make and can be adapted with any thing you have in fridge – add chestnut mushrooms, frozen peas, shredded kale. In this recipe I use homemade chicken stock which I make each time we have a roast chicken, I’ve always got a tub of it to hand in the freezer. But if you don’t have your own chicken stock, you can use a stock cube or shop bought fresh stock.
- 1 large butternut squash
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp of olive oil
- a handful of sage leaves chopped
- salt and pepper
- 3 large knobs of butter
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 400g of long grain brown rice
- 1 litre of of chicken stock (or vegetable can be used)
- a good handful of grated parmesan cheese, plus extra to serve
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
Cut the butternut squash into 6-8 wedges, remove the seeds and place in a roasting tray. Add the chopped garlic, a glug of olive oil, half the sage leaves, sea salt and pepper, to the tray and rub over the butternut squash with your hands. Roast in the oven for 40-50 minutes until softened and becoming golden in colour.
Once the squash has cooked, cool slightly, chop into bite sized pieces and leave to one side for later.
Heat the olive oil and a good knob of butter in a deep, heavy-based frying pan or saute pan. Gently fry the onion until softened. Add the rice and stir for about a minute until the grains are coated with the oil and butter. Add a good ladle of hot stock and the remaining sage and season well with salt and pepper. Turn the heat down so the stock is simmering gently. Keep adding ladles of stock as it cooks into the rice, stirring and moving the rice around in the pan. After about 15-20 minutes the rice should be soft but still have a bit of bite left in it. The texture of the risotto should be thick and creamy, but not too loose. Add extra stock if necessary. It may seem tedious standing and stirring but the end result will be worth it.
Remove the pan from the heat and gently stir the roasted butternut squash into the risotto with the parmesan, the remaining butter and seasoning to taste. Add any extra stock if the risotto seems particularly thick. Cover with a lid for a couple of minutes as this will give the risotto an even creamier texture.
Spoon the risotto into warmed bowls and scatter with the extra parmesan.