I find there is something very relaxing about making a risotto, the stirring and not rushing the dish is just such a nice feeling. Don’t get me wrong there are times when we don’t have time to stand at the hob and stir and keep a close eye on a risotto, that’s where an oven baked risotto comes in handy (I’ll be posting a recipe for one of those soon!) I do think though in this day and age everyone seems to be in a hurry and we are bombarded with information and facts from 24 hour news channels, social media updates etc that we don’t have a moment to just zone out, this is why I think I enjoy the cooking process of a risotto. Pour yourself a cup of tea or a glass of wine and just relax and enjoy cooking!
I originally was going to do a pumpkin risotto then I remembered I’m not overly keen on pumpkins however I LOVE butternut squash! You can roast the squash and rosemary ahead of time and store in the fridge for up to 2 days in an airtight container or you can roast it whilst prepping the risotto.
I wanted achieve a creamy risotto without any dairy and that’s when I came up with the idea of pureeing some of the squash, it works perfectly and gives the dish the texture it needs. When you add the roasted squash pieces to the risotto some may break up but this further adds the creamy texture of the dish so don’t panic!
-4 1/2 cups of peeled, de-seeded and diced butternut squash (approx. 3cm dice)
-1 heaped Tbsp. fresh rosemary, woody stalks removed & very finely chopped, plus extra for garnish
-2 1/2 Tbsp. Olive oil
-1 onion, peeled & finely diced
-1 leek, white part only, trimmed & washed, finely diced
-2 garlic cloves, crushed
-300g risotto rice
-125ml white wine or vegetable stock
-1 Ltr. gluten free vegetable stock
-1/4 cup flaked almonds, toasted (or pine nuts)
How To Make
Pre-heat oven to 200C/400F. Line a baking sheet with foil. Put the diced squash, rosemary and 1 1/2 Tbsp. of oil on the sheet and mix well with your hands to ensure all the squash is coated in the oil. Roast in the oven for 35-45 minutes, stirring once, until the squash is fork tender. Remove from the oven and puree 3/4 cup of roasted squash and set aside with the rest of the squash.
In a large saute pan, add the remaining 1Tbsp. of oil and warm over a medium heat. At the same time have a pan with your vegetable stock on a low simmer so it’s ready to use.
Once the oil is warm, add the leek, onion and garlic and cook until softened. You don’t want to cook on a high heat as you don’t want the onion or leek to colour, you just want it to soften.
Once the leek and onion are softened, add the rice and stir well.
Next add the wine (if using) or 125ml of stock and continue stirring until the liquid has been absorbed.
Now start adding the stock, I usually add about 2 ladles worth at a time and stir gently until all the stock has been absorbed then add 2 more ladles of vegetable stock. Continue doing this until all the stock has been absorbed.
Test the risotto for ‘bite’. It shouldn’t be too soft or too hard but when you bite a grain you want a little resistance. If the risotto is still too hard, add a small amount of water and stir until absorbed. Repeat until you reach the desired consistency.
Turn off the heat but don’t move the pan off the ring as you’ll need some of the residual heat.
Add the pureed squash and stir into the risotto. Next add the diced, roasted squash and stir gently until combined.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Put the lid on the pan and leave for 10 minutes until the squash is warmed through and the risotto is lovely and creamy.
Serve immediately and sprinkle over some rosemary and toasted almonds to finish the dish.