Sunday, September 30, 2012

Butternut Squash & Sage Risotto

In clearing out all my cookbooks and recipes, I stumbled across one using sage!  I don't often cook with sage, but I literally own a whole bunch of it.  Last year I bought a tiny sage plant and it has thrived, add that to the fact that I had all the ingredients and it seemed a good idea to have risotto for dinner.

OK, maybe I didn't have all the listed ingredients, but I had enough to substitute and make a delicious dinner!  In fact, I was listening to Jamie Oliver on a radio interview the other day - he was talking about his new cookbook, Jamie's 15 Minute Meals, which sounds like a book every household needs.  One thing he said though, sounded like he was talking about me.  When asked if everyone could benefit from using his new cookbook, Jamie said that first time, or inexperienced cooks would probably do better since they will follow the recipe exactly, where more experienced cooks will change and rejig a recipe.  Uh oh, he was talking about me!

Here is a glimpse of how I change and rejig a recipe:

Hand picked herbs, mainly sage, but also thyme and oregano.  My problem with cooking is I tend to throw things in and not measure them - so nothing can be repeated exactly. So you would think documenting my cooking would stop this practice.  But it doesn't, because I never added these herbs into this recipe.  I cut them up and put them on the butternut squash before putting that in the oven.  It wasn't until I saw this picture I remembered!

This recipe calls for the squash to be
cut into 2cm dice (I guess that would be about one inch).  But I don't do this because I absolutely hate cutting butternut squash!  It is too hard and takes the fun out of cooking.  So I always just bake the squash before using. It will change the texture of the finished product, but it always tastes good.  Just drizzle a bit of olive oil over the cut sides, throw some herbs on and bake at about 150 C  (300 F).  I tend to wait for about an hour, or as close to an hour as possible.  The squash will be mushy though, so it might be better to try it and see what texture works for you.                                                                                                      Before baking

After letting the squash cool, I just take a spoon and scoop it out.  Like I said, it will be mushy and this tended to disappear into the rice, making the risotto a bit orange, but I thought it was good!  This squash was double the size of what I needed so I used half for the risotto and half for soup.

                                                                                                       After baking

Assembling the ingredients

A traditional ingredient in risotto is wine, but I didn't have any white wine and felt that this did not have to hold me back!  I found white wine substitutes on the internet (what would we do without that?).  Turns out you can use a number of things instead of wine:
  • apple juice
  • chicken broth
  • apple cider
  • white grape juice
  • ginger ale
  • water

I used apple juice. 

Butternut Squash & Sage Risotto

Serves 4

400g butternut squash cut into 2cm dice     (just under a pound of squash cut into 1 inch dice)
2 tbsp olive oil
100g tenderstem broccoli                            (3 1/2 ounces)  ( I used peas since I didn't have broccoli)
       Half these lengthwise
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsp sage leaves, chopped (about 12 leaves)
1/2 tsp dried chili flakes
300g Arborio rice                                      ( 1 1/4 cups)
125 ml white wine                                     ( 1/3 cup)
1 litre hot vegetable stock                          ( 4 cups)
60 g soft cheese                                          ( 1/2 cup)   I used Philadelphia extra light cream cheese

This is they way the original recipe is worded:

1.  Preheat oven to 200C, fan 180C, gas 6 or 400F.  Tip the squash into a roasting tin. Add 1tbsp oil and mix well.  Cook in the oven for 10 minutes, then add the broccoli and cook for a further 20 minutes. 

Or my way:

1.  Cut squash in half, drizzle with 1 tbsp oil and chopped herbs (I used sage, thyme and oregano).  Place in a roasting tin and bake at about 150C or 300F.  I did mine for an hour and that was possibly too long.

2.  While the squash is baking, heat the remaining 1tbsp in a large frying pan and cook the onion for 5 minutes, until soft but not colored.  Add the garlic, sage and chili flakes. Cook for a further 1 minute then stir in the rice.

3.  Pour over the wine or wine substitute and simmer until it is absorbed.  Gradually add the vegetable stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring until it is all absorbed and the rice is tender.  This should take about 25 minutes.and the roasted vegetables, I scooped out the cooked squash and added a handful of frozen peas since the peas needed to cook.  If you follow use the roasted squash and broccoli, you would add this with the cream cheese.

This was the last "ladleful" which was bigger than normal because I got a bit impatient.  However, it did cook down and ended up alright!

4.  Season with freshly ground black pepper. Stir through the cream cheese and enjoy!
Nutritional information:
This meal contains 2 of your 5 a day.
Weightwatchers Propoints  approximately 10pp per serving
When baking, follow directions. When cooking, go by your own taste. ~Laiko Bahrs

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