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The Comfort of Risotto

As the weather gets colder, our thoughts turn to hearty, warming food. And it doesn’t come much better than butternut squash risotto.

Risotto is a northern Italian rice dish cooked and stirred with broth until it reaches a creamy consistency. At its most classic and introductory level risotto is simple — some butter, onions, a dash of wine, rice and broth, finished with Parmesan.

The term “risotto” has two possible derivations: some say it came from an exclamation of Frederick Barbarossa, who praised a “Risum optimum”; others maintain it derived from a term used by the Insubres, the Celts that inhabited Lombardy, “risott.”

At the end of the 18th century, the term is first found in a household book by Antonio Albertazzi, a lawyer living in the Val d’Ossola, in northern Piedmont.

Prep time: 0.5 hour
Cooking time: 0.5 hour

Butternut squash risotto

Ingredients

  • 1kg butternut squash
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • bunch of sage leaves picked, half roughly chopped, half left whole
  • 1½l vegetable stock
  • 50g butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 300g risotto rice
  • 1 small glass white wine
  • 50g parmesan, finely grated

Method

Preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Peel and cut the squash into bite-size chunks. Place in roasting tin, and add 1 tbsp oil together with the chopped sage. Roast for 30 mins until brown and soft.

While the squash is roasting, prepare the risotto. Bring the stock to the boil and keep on a low simmer. In a separate pan, melt half the butter over a medium heat. Stir in the onions and cook gently for 8-10 mins until soft but not coloured, stirring occasionally. Stir the rice into the onions until completely coated in the butter, then stir continuously until the rice is shiny and the edges of the grain start to look transparent.

Pour in the wine and simmer until completely evaporated. Add the stock, a ladleful at a time, and stirring the rice over a low heat for 25-30 mins, until the rice is cooked al dente (with a slightly firm, starchy bite in the middle). The risotto should be creamy and slightly soupy.

Remove the roasted squash from the oven and add to the rice. Add the cheese and remaining butter and leave to rest for a few minutes.

Getting it all sorted out

Some of the basic ingredients are already in the kitchenette, so check before you go shopping.

Within a minute’s walk of the Butterfly Loft is our pretty High Street where you’ll find shops selling everything you need for this recipe (and much more). We have a truly wonderful local baker Woodstocks (you’ll see the queue out of the door most mornings), an excellent local butcher (H Green & Son) plus a Budgens and McColls. Every Saturday morning there’s a traditional market in Timor Court featuring a large fruit and veg stall with good quality produce.

And (doing our bit for the environment) we provide Butterfly shopping bags so you can shop your socks off!

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