This is a dinner that melds a few of my current obsessions perfectly. First up, the butternut squash – technically, it’s not in season any more, but still I can’t get enough. When I went to London’s Borough Market (more on that later), there was squash everywhere, which I feel totally validates the fact that I’m always thinking of new ways to use it. It’s a classic autumn vegetable, and great for veggie dishes too in place of meat.
Secondly, risotto. Before my flatmate and I moved here, I’d never made risotto. It felt like one of those things that was a total pain to make – the whole “standing over it while it cooks thing” was off-putting, and the abundance of “easy risotto” recipes on the internet reinforced the idea that normally it’s just too much hassle. Um, guys – risotto is easy and amazing. There’s seriously no reason to be scared.
And finally, butternut and bacon. When I talked about New Covent Garden soups, I forgot to mention this combo, but it really is something to obsess over. Smoked bacon especially goes so, so well with the sweetness of the butternut. Yum.
With all that in mind, this risotto kind of had to happen. And so, on a night when I was craving something warm and comforting after long days at work and armpit-filled tube journeys, it did. I’ll never look back.
Serves 2/3 people, depending on how greedy you are!
500g butternut squash, cut into 2cm chunks
2 cloves of garlic
1 stick of celery, sliced
1 white onion, finely chopped
2 rashers of bacon, cut into strips about 1cmx3cm
200g arborio rice
50g soft cream cheese
1 litre vegetable stock
Splash of olive oil
1) Pop butternut chunks onto a roasting tray, drizzle with olive oil and shake over some paprika. Roast for about 40 minutes, or until soft.
2) When there’s about 15 minutes left on the butternut, drizzle a hot pan with olive oil, throw in garlic, onion and celery. Stir. Place the lid on, and allow to sweat until just starting to soften.
3) Add the strips of bacon, and when just cooked, add the rice to the mixture. Stir well so that the rice is coated with all the juices, and start to add vegetable stock one ladle-full at a time, stirring constantly.
4) Keep adding stock until rice is tender.
5) At the last minute, throw in the spinach, roasted butternut, and cream cheese. Stir well, and you’re ready to rock!