Risottos are a classic Italian dish that everyone should have in their armoury of recipes. It is wonderfully comforting food and even though we can suggest a classic white risotto as lovely in its own right, there are so many different variants which lift the dish further.
Adding a roasted squash like pumpkin or butternut squash adds extra flavour. Preparing a puree of the squash adds some much needed creaminess but when it comes in chunks too, there is a wonderful mish-mash of texture. using strong herbs like sage and thyme really helps draw out an earthy flavour from the squash. Either one can be omitted if needed.
The rice is always an Arborio or Canaroli rice for risotto.
- 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 large white onion, diced
- 1 large clove garlic, diced
- 2Tbsp. freshly chopped thyme
- 2 Tbsp. fresh chopped sage, plus extra for garnish
- A pinch of salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup of arborio rice
- 1 medium glass of dry white wine or vermouth (Chardonnay works well but we have also tried a Semillon Blanc).
- 3 cups vegetable stock
- 1 cup roasted pumpkin or butternut squash purée. Some of this can be chopped into chunks and left as it simply to add some additional texture.
- 1/4 cup cold unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- a handful of pine nuts
- Chop the squash into chunks and roast at 210 Centigrade for 30 minutes in an oiled dish. Olive oil is ideal here.
Heat the butter and half the oil in a frying pan over a low-medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and fry for 8-10 minutes, until softened but not coloured to form what is called the sofritto.
Add the rice and fry for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly until it is coated in the oil.
Pour in the wine and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat slightly until the wine is just simmering, then cook until two-thirds of the wine has evaporated.
Add ladlefuls of warm stock to the pan and return to a simmer, reducing the heat if the liquid starts to bubble too fiercely, to prevent the rice from cooking too quickly. When most of the stock has evaporated, continue to add further amounts of stock.
Cook the risotto in this way for 12-15 minutes, or until most of the stock has been absorbed by the rice and it is tender enough but still retains a slight bite.
Stir the chopped thyme, sage, butternut squash, Parmesan and mozzarella into the risotto. Turn the heat off, leave the pan on the heat, and let the cheese melt. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, heat a dry frying pan over a medium heat. Add the pine nuts and toast for 1-2 minutes, until just golden-brown. Stir them into the risotto and serve.