What is it about a squash that makes you warm from the inside out as you enjoy its beautiful sweet flesh. It could be the bright orange colour, a welcome sight amidst all the greens and browns of autumn. It could be the way it goes with pretty much everything: it can be soup, stew, curry, pudding; the list is endless, although I’ve not heard of anyone making squash gin or squash vodka. I had heard that the onion squash was the nicest of all the squashes as it has the most flavour. For me I think it is the sweetest and brightest of the lot.
I find that a butternut squash is a bit too much squash for two no matter how big a fan you are of this bulbous vegetable but the onion squash is just right. I made a beeline straight for it when I saw it poking out of the box at the farmers’ market. I also couldn’t resist some of the gooiest, creamiest most sumptuous of blue cheeses. These two would pair up in a heavenly autumnal risotto.
When I make risotto I cannot stand a meagre portion. What’s the point? I want mountains of rice and so I normally go for 250g rice for two people. First of all cut the squash into wedges which I have to say is easier to manage than a butternut squash simply because it is smaller. Put the wedges on a roasting tray, bit of olive oil, salt and pepper and as many cloves of garlic as you can spare. This roasts away merrily in the oven while you crack on with the rest of the risotto.
Get some chicken or vegetable stock on the hob to warm up for later. Chop an onion and a clove of garlic and fry gently in olive oil for 10-15 minutes until soft then add in the rice. Fry over a high heat so the rice can absorb some of the oil; have some on standby in case the rice starts to catch. Chuck in a glass of white wine and let it reduce. Add a ladleful of stock at a time and stir into the rice. Keep going until the rice is cooked but still has a little bite. I find it can take anywhere between 500-800ml stock.
When the rice is done, turn the heat off and put the lid on. Strip the squash from the skin and mix it into the risotto. Add a good knob of butter and crumble in as much blue cheese as you like. I have to admit I used the whole wedge; some to melt through the risotto and some for the top.
Having the squash and blue cheese within the risotto gives it a nice background of sweet and savoury but when you sink your teeth through a chunk of squash or a lump of cheese it’s smack you in the face flavour. The squash turns the risotto a glorious yellow colour which couldn’t fail to cheer you up even after the most miserable, rainy autumn day. Sat down with a plate of food the colour of a canary with bold flavours and exciting textures; this one’s a keeper.