Cheap recipes – butternut squash risotto

Cheap recipes - butternut squash risottoUsing vegetables as a base for your recipes instead of meat can save lots of money on your weekly food bill, and if you’ve grown the vegetables yourself, even better!  My eldest son, who is a university student and living on a tight budget, is always on the lookout for easy, cheap recipes.  He makes a lot of pasta and rice dishes, and this butternut squash risotto is one of his favourites.  He made this for the family recently, and it went down a storm, even with my youngest who rarely eats a meal without meat.

The recipe is for a basic risotto with butternut squash, but it can easily be adapted to inculde whatever vegetables you have available.  Simply replace the butternut squash with whatever veg is currently ripening in the garden, or on special offer in the supermarket – mix and match to make your own favourite.

Many people think risottos can be a bit fiddly, but they are really incredibly easy! You just need a bit of time to stand and stir.  Your biggest effort will be the chopping and peeling of the squash. These quantities serve four fairly hungry people, but you can adapt them to suit.

Ingredients:

300 g risotto rice
1 litre hot stock (chicken or vegetable)
1 large onion
1 clove garlic
1 medium butternut squash
50 g butter
Splash olive oil (not extra virgin)
1 glass white wine
Lemon juice (juice of 1 fresh lemon, or one tablespoon of squeezed)
Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C (180 degrees for fan ovens).
  • Halve the butternut squash lengthways and remove and discard the seeds.  Cut each half into three or four pieces, and peel the hard skin away with a knife. Chop the flesh into one inch cubes, toss in a little oil, and roast on a baking tray in the pre-heated oven for about 40 minutes until it is soft and starting to brown at the edges.
  • Meanwhile, chop the onion and garlic finely.  Heat the butter with a splash of olive oil, and gently fry the onion for 5-10 minutes until softened – take care not to brown it.  Add the garlic towards the end of this time – don’t allow this to brown either, or it will taste bitter.
  • Then add the rice and mix well with the buttery onions. Fry for a few moments before adding the wine. Allow this to bubble for a minute or so, stirring continuously.
  • Add a good splash of the stock to the pan. Simmer over a low heat, adding more hot stock a little at a time, as it is absorbed, stirring frequently.  It should take about 20 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed and you have a moist, creamy risotto. If its starts to look a bit dry before the rice is cooked, add a little extra water from the kettle.
  • Finally, stir in the roasted butternut squash and cook for an extra minute or two to make sure it’s all piping hot.
  • Add the parmesan and the lemon juice, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and serve immediately.

Variations:

This recipe can be adapted to use other vegetables – try sweet potatoes instead of squash.  One of my favourite variations is pea risotto.  Substitute 300 grams of frozen or fresh cooked peas for the squash (no need to roast!!), and add them once the rice is cooked.  You could puree one third of the peas with a little vegetable stock if you like, which gives the risotto a lovely green colour. For extra flavour, add some mint towards the end of the cooking time.  This dish is very economical and absolutely delicious!

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