Friday, 12 February 2010

Butternut Squash, Spinach and Goat's Cheese Risotto

So, hands up who's suffering from tooth ache after all the cake posts recently?? Yep, I still have a birthday cupcake post ready and waiting and of course there will be something sweet for my sweet this Valentine's day (obviously I demonstrate my love via the medium of food!). But today, I thought I'd go with something savory.
butternut squash risotto
I've been inspired by a new found friend to eat much more vegetarian food (seriously girl, publish that parmigiana recipe already, it's to die for! And I hate aubergines). I've also been attempting to eat much more seasonally and locally - a bit of a tough feat in London but thanks to these guys, a whole lot easier than it could be. If you do happen to live in their delivery zone which is, granted, fairly restricted, then please go and check out Farm Direct's website - I can vouch for how AMAZING the produce is and it even comes in rustic wooden crates! Makes me feel very trendy and en mode even though I'm far from either of those! The real bonus? They're super reasonably priced. Ok, so not on the same level as Tesco Value, but as they have no store front and only order what they need, so they can offer beautiful organic produce at frankly bargin prices.

Anyway, enough already with the Farm Direct fan club!! Back to the risotto. This was the product of much experimentation with the basic butternut squash risotto formula. I wanted it to be warm and comforting but not super stodgey - does anyone else get a little tired of heavy winter food?? But something about snow doesn't make you crave salads either. I wanted to keep the rich sweetness of the squash (or pumpkin - I bet that would work equally well) but inject some zestiness with tart lemons and contast with the bite of goats cheese. The spinach really adds to the colour and freshness of the dish, plus makes it feel super healthy!
butternut squash risotto 4
So it might seem that this is not the simplest risotto but it really is - just give it a go and you won't be disappointed. We probably have this for supper once a week and it's perfect for entertaining as well, especially if you have any vegetarians coming but don't want to faff around with seperate veggie/non-veggie dishes.

The only thing I would say is be careful with the seasoning - I've made this a touch too salty before by using too much stock powder as the squash is seasoned as well. I probably only use 1/2 tsp marigold bouillon powder dilluted in boiling water.

Butternut Squash, Spinach and Goat's Cheese Risotto

Serves: 3-4

1 tbsp olive oil
Knob butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1-2 cloves garlic (depending on size and how much you like garlic), crushed
½ butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cubed
750ml hot vegetable stock (about 1/2tsp marigold swiss bouillon powder dissolved in boiling water)
White wine
375g risotto rice
A good handful (ca. ½ x 235g bag) baby spinach
Goat’s cheese, crumbled
Juice and zest of half a lemon
Another knob of butter
Seasoning (and some parsley and pine nuts if you have any lying around)

1. Place the cubed butternut squash in a roasting tin, drizzle with olive oil and season. Roast in a hot oven until nicely golden (ca. 30 mins at 200°C). This normally takes about as long as the rest of the risotto takes to prep and cook so do this first then worry about the risotto once it’s in the oven.

2. Heat the oil and a knob of butter in a deep pan, then add the onion and sauté for 4-5 minutes until slightly softened. Try not to let it brown. Add the garlic and cook for a moment more.

3. Stir in the rice and allow the oil to be absorbed and the grains to become glossy. Add the wine and allow the rice to absorb before adding a ladleful of stock at a time, continuing to simmer gently until the rice is tender* and the liquid is almost absorbed. Stir fairly constantly (but gently so as not to damage the rice) to avoid sticking.

4. Remove from the heat, season to taste then stir in the roasted squash, spinach, lemon zest and juice, herbs, a good grating of parmesan and a knob of butter. Cover and allow it to cook in the residual heat for a couple of minutes. Risotto improves massively by being allowed to rest for a few minutes!

5. Serve scattered with goat’s cheese and pine nuts with a bit more parmesan and pepper on top if you fancy.

*To test whether the rice is cooked, take a single grain between your fingertips and press together. If it is completely soft then it is cooked; if there is any hardness in the centre it requires further cooking.

Blue cheese, such as Gorgonzola, also works well with this recipe. I've even switched the spinach out for rocket before and it works wonderfully.

It’s worth letting the squash really get some colour going on in the oven as the super sweet flavour goes so well with the sharp goat’s cheese.

Rosy xx


  1. I'm on a bit of a vegetarian crusade at the moment - but hubby and daughter love their meat. Perhaps I'll try this one just for myself - or put some bacon in it for carnivores

  2. Its post like this that make me wish Risotto got along with me!!!!

  3. I safely rescued the print out of this recipe from my handbag this morning, and then promptly forgot to buy a squash. Curses. I cannot wait to try this out,seriously, I'm salivating right now.

    And I shall indeed publish the parmigiana recipe...I'm making it on Sunday and will take photos I promise!

  4. I have a weakness for risotto...any risotto. Yours is so pretty. It's true what they say - if you make healthy foods colorful and attractive people will want to eat them!