Friday, November 5, 2010


for the squash
1/2 medium squash, roughly chopped; skin on
1 tbsp groundnut oil
1 tbsp runny honey

for the risotto
1tbsp olive oil
1 white onion, finely chopped
150g Arborio risotto rice (roughly 75g/person)
2 glasses white wine
500ml chicken stock (or vegetable for veggies)
3 sprigs fresh thyme, de-stalked
3-4 large handfuls spinach leaves
200g soft welsh goats cheese
roughly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 180° C. Having chopped the butternut squash with a sharp knife and a bit of welly, lay evenly on a baking tray and drizzle with the groundnut oil and honey. Leave the skins on; they will become soft and edible once cooked. Bake for 20 minutes or until soft. Toss regularly and check for burning edges. When cooked, leave to rest until needed.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and add the chopped onion. Stir with a wooden spoon and put a lid on the pan to soften the onion. Do not brown.

In a jug prepare the stock. Fresh stock is always far more subtle and delicious than cubes so use this if you can, but one cube with 500ml water works well too. Stir so the cube has dissolved.

Add the Arborio and fry until the rice becomes almost translucent. Turn up the heat a touch and pour in the white wine. The wine should hiss as you put it in the pan and will bubble with the rice until the alcohol simmers off and the liquid is reduced.

Pour in enough stock to cover the rice, and stir. You only want a little at a time. The next slosh should be added when the stock has been absorbed and you can see the bottom of the pan. Do this each time until the stock runs out and the rice is soft. It should have a small bite to it, but you don't want to be breaking teeth - slightly more cooked than al dente should do it.

If the rice is still hard after all the stock has gone in, keep adding more stock or water to get the right texture to the risotto. The trick to any risotto is to stir and taste the whole way through cooking. It may seem a bore, but a perfect risotto needs nurturing.

When the rice is cooked and the sauce is thick and glossy, add the spinach. The spinach will wilt almost immediately. You want to fold it in so it weaves evenly through the rice. Then add the squash. With the wooden spoon or a fork mash half the cubes into the rice and leave the rest whole. This will give a lovely peachy colour, a soft texture and a sweet taste to the risotto - you want the honeyed squash to come through from first to last forkful, not just when you bite into a large bit. Finally, mix in a tbsp of goats cheese, and it's almost ready to serve.

Serve into bowls and spoon a quinelle of the goats cheese on top. Sprinkle each dish with a generous helping of black pepper, and a sprig of thyme.

A wonderful one to warm you next to the bonfire, or feet up on the sofa. Autumn hug food at its finest.


  1. Right, I'm going to test that one by my bonfire and I'll let you know how it goes down with the burghers (not burgers) of Hampstead. Reminds me of a wicked pasta I had (in Shanghai, strangely enough) with squash, spinach and feta. Oh and pine nuts. Great combo. Thanks for sharing. xxx

  2. I love the sound of squash with honey, im looking forward to trying this out. Just found your blog and im really enjoying it - i feel the need for 'autumn hug food' right now!

  3. Lovely to have you on board freerangegirl. Honey really complements the mild, nutty flavour of the squash, and the same combination of ingredients would work together in anything. Quiche, cream without the spinach?

    Mat. What, pray, are burgHers?