I have spent the last two weeks being naively optimistic that we had seen the last of the snow for this season… I hear the ringing of cynical laughter of locals in my ears. I’m joking, Canadians are far too polite for that. Anyway, following the latest dumping, I felt we were in need of some sunshine.
So here is my little plateful of sunshine. I mean, look at this happy little golden plate. Do you feel a little warmer?
Thyme and Garlic Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto
1 neck of butternut squash, peeled and cubed (about 3 cups)
1 tsp dried thyme
5 small garlic cloves, whole
Salt and pepper
1/2 white onion, finely diced
2 sticks of celery, washed and finely diced
1 yellow pepper, deseeded and finely diced
1 cup arborio rice
1 level tsp of Marmite, yes that’s right! I didn’t have any veggie or chicken stock to hand, but this worked a treat!
Approximately 1 pint of boiled water
1 tsp of butter
1 cup of grated strong cheddar or 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan
Preheat the oven to 200c or 400f. Line a baking sheet with grease proof paper. Evenly distribute the squash cubes on the baking sheet and sprinkle with the dried thyme, season with salt and pepper and drizzle olive oil over the top.
Chuck the whole garlic cloves, in their papery jackets on top and roast for 45 minutes. Toss half way through the cooking time.
In a heavy based pan, heat about a tbsp of olive oil on a moderate heat. Soften the onions, celery and yellow pepper before adding the arborio rice. Turn the rice around the pan for a few minutes so that each grain is coated with the oil and they start to be translucent.
Start gradually adding the water, stirring continuously. After the first third has been added And absorbed, stir in the Marmite.
Spoon a third of the roasted squash cubes into a bowl. Remove the roasted garlic cloves from their jackets and add them to the squash with a drizzle of water and then blitz with a hand blender until smooth and silky consistency.
Add the garlic and squash puree to the rice.
Continue to add the water to the rice until it is cooked to the point of having a bit of bite in the grains. It will take about 30-35 minutes from when you start adding the water for it to be absorbed. The consistency of the risotto should be wet, not stodgy. Add a knob of butter and the grated cheese, stir it up until the cheese is melted and incorporated. Mix in the remaining butternut squash cubes to the risotto and serve immediately onto warm plates. Drizzle some olive oil over the top.
Add a sprinkle of grated cheese if you are in the mood, although it doesn’t need it.
I was thrilled that this was a whole family pleaser. It was the roasted garlic (and the squidge of Marmite) that made the butternut squash shine!
Come on Spring… I know you are out there somewhere!
(Make sure you check back to see what I did with the leftovers… Yumbo)