Butternut squash is probably my favourite fall vegetable. It's golden orange flesh, sweet and dense. It is just divine roasted with just a splash of extra virgin olive oil. I love chouriço and it's smokey sweet paprika essence matches perfectly with butternut squash. Here I have roasted the squash with chouriço and made a simple risotto with vegetable stock. Hearty, creamy love in a bowl. Perfect as the evenings draw in. If you want to make this risotto even more nutritious, add a handful of curly kale at the beginning of cooking the rice, after you add the wine and add the stock. Finished with Grana Padano, it is absolutely scrumptious. You can use any Italian hard cheese you like. I happen to love Grana Padano.
To make this risotto vegetarian, omit chouriço and use vegetable stock. Risotto is more of a technique than a dish, so to speak. Once you master how to make it...the world is replete with endless possibilities and flavour combinations.
It isn't just fancy Italian restaurant fare. You can make quality risotto at home...afterall, it is the ultimate home cooked Italian comfort food. A hug in a bowl.
Just keep adding ladles of stock, stir and taste often. You will know when it is done. The finished grain should be soft but still have a bite. Think softener than "al Dente' pasta. It should be creamy, not watery. When you move your wooden spoon back and forth, you should see the bottom of the pot briefly before the rice covers it up again, almost like a wave over sand. It is sexy, sensual and delicious. I am confident you can master it. Go on, pour yourself a glass of wine, put on your favourite playlist and linger by the stove....
Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto
Time: 45 mins. total including cooking rice
400 g. Carnaroli, Vialone Nano, or Arborio rice ( I prefer Carnaroli or Vialone Nano, Arborio is a last resort)
400 g. Butternut squash, peeled and seeded
125 g. Chouriço (or Spanish chorizo), cut into small pieces
1.5 L. Hot water, chicken, or vegetable stock. (low sodium)
I used vegetable stock
125 ml. Dry white wine or vermouth. If using vermouth, I only use Noilly Prat.
150-200 g. Grana Padano cheese to taste. Adding about 100 g. to finish dish and more to serve.
1 Bunch flat leaf parsley to garnish. Leaves roughly chopped. You can chop stalks and add them to the rice as it cooks.
Crushed red chili flakes, to taste (optional)
Course sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 Cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp. Sweet paprika
1 tsp. Ground ginger
1 Medium onion or shallot, finely chopped
1 Small rib of celery, finely chopped
1 Small carrot, finely chopped
90 ml. Extra virgin olive oil for risotto plus more for roasting the butternut squash
1 Tbsp. Unsalted butter to finish rice
1. Pre-heat oven to 200°c/ 390°f.
In a bowl, add butternut squash, garlic, chouriço, paprika, ginger, salt and pepper. Toss well with 60 ml.( 2 tbsp.) extra virgin olive oil.
Arrange on baking sheet pan and roast for 30-35 minutes.
2. In a sauce pan, add stock and heat to warm. Warm stock helps maintain the temperature of the rice as it cooks and you add it.
3. In a heavy bottomed, high sided pan. Sauté the onions, on medium heat, in 30 ml. (1 tbsp.), extra virgin olive oil, until onions are soft and translucent, but not browned. Add chopped parsley stalks.
Add rice, stir to coat with the oil. Cook stirring, until edges of rice grains are translucent. About 2 minutes. Do not let rice brown.
4. Add wine. Cook and stir until wine is completely evaporated, about 2-3 minutes. Lower heat to a low simmer. Add one ladle of hot stock. Stir and let cook. When stock is almost absorbed, add another ladle of stock.
Half way through at this point. Take butternut squash out of oven. Chop roughly and tip it into risotto pan, including any roasting juices.
Continue stirring and adding stock until rice is cooked. After about 13-14 minutes. Taste it. It should be ready. If not continue adding ladles of stock . My risotto takes about 15 minutes from adding wine point.
5. When it is cooked, take of the heat. Stir in butter, parsley and cheese. Divide among deep bowls with more grated cheese to taste. Sprinkle with a stream of olive oil and crushed red chili flakes if you fancy.
Risotto tastes better when served immediately.
Do not discard the parsley stalks...chop and add to rice as it cooks.
You can cube before or after roasting. Up to you. Here I cut it up after I roasted it and just before adding to risotto.