Venetian Risotto with Butternut Squash / Risotto alla Veneziana con Zucca 

Venetian Risotto with Butternut Squash / Risotto alla Veneziana con Zucca

'Pumpkin risotto is one of those comforting dishes which can please anybody, including vegetarians (if the chicken stock is replaced by vegetable stock). This specific recipe comes from the kitchen of the Hotel Cipriani in Venice.' Antonio Carluccio. 'Italians often eat a small plate of risotto after their antipasti, but risotto also makes an excellent meat-free dish in its own right. The perfect risotto should be creamy and ‘run’ on the plate rather than being a thick stodge piled up high. Don’t stint on the constant stirring. It’s this that gives the rice its creamy texture.' Gino D’Acampo

Credit: Adapted from a recipe in the books “Two Greedy Italians Eat Italy” by Antonio Carluccio and Gennaro Contaldo, AND “Gino’s Italian Escape” by Gino D’Acampo.

Ingredients

  • 1 large butternut squash peeled and deseeded and cut into 1cm cubes.
  • 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1.2 litres warm vegetables stock, made with 2 stock gel pots or cubes
  • 6 tbsp of cooking olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and thickly sliced
  • 1 large white onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 300g Italian arborio (preferred) OR carnaroli rice
  • 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary, 2 with needles finely chopped, 2 left whole
  • 1 small glass of good quality Italian white wine (at room temperature)
  • Handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, stems cut off and leaves roughly chopped
  • 40g finely grated vegetarian pecorino (preferred) or Cheddar cheese
  • Freshly ground sea salt and black pepper
  • aluminium foil

Method

  1. Place the butternut squash on a foil lined baking sheet in a roasting tray(s), and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, sprinkle the chopped rosemary needles over them and add the whole sprigs.
  2. Ground some salt and pepper into the tray(s) and turn the squash over with a spatula to mix. Place in a preheated oven at 200°C or gas mark 6 and roast for 20 minutes, and then remove and stir. Return to the oven and roast for another 10 minutes until the squash is fork tender.
  3. Turn off the oven, remove the roasting tray, take out the rosemary sprigs and reserve half the cooked cubes on the side. Keep the rest on the foil in the roasting dish in the warm oven.
  4. To make the butternut squash puree either; place half the squash in a bowl and mash them with a potato masher until it is smooth and has no lumps, or place in a blender add 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and blitz to a smooth puree. Set aside.
  5. Boil 1.2 lts of water in a kettle and bring it to the boil. Pour it into a saucepan on a hob, bring it back to the boil, add the 2 vegetable stock gel pots or cubes and stir to dissolve in the water. Then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Keep the stock on a simmering boil.
  6. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a low heat and fry the garlic for I minute without burning. Remove the garlic with a slotted spoon and add the onion to the pan and cook gently for about 6 minutes until flaccid and softened, stirring frequently.
  7. Add the rice to the onions and stir constantly for 2 minutes so the grains soak in the flavours. Add a small glass of good quality white Italian wine and stir it through. Allow the wine to be absorbed and evaporate without the pan becoming dry. Stir frequently.
  8. Stir in the butternut squash purée.
  9. Now, start adding the stock a ladleful at a time to the rice, stirring continuously until each ladleful is absorbed before adding the next one. Keep adding ladles of stock as it cooks into the rice, one at a time stirring and moving the rice around in the pan. After about 18-20 minutes the rice should be soft but still have a bit of bite left in it. The texture of the risotto should be thick and creamy, but not too loose. The risotto should flow like lava. Add extra stock if necessary.
  10. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cheese until it has melted, then add the reserved squash cubes on the top, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with flat leafed parsley.
  11. Let the risotto relax for 2 minutes before serving.
  12. Serve the risotto immediately into warm bowls and drizzle over some extra virgin olive oil.

Cooked, reviewed and photographed by ROGER AND MARY (Shropshire, UK)

This is what Roger and Mary thought of the recipe:

“Hello John. 

Venetian Risotto with Butternut Squash

First of all a confession! We love risotto but to us they are a short cut to a one pot meal for a substantial supper before settling down to watching the TV. We usually throw in the odds and ends of whatever vegetables we can find in the fridge or in the garden together with some Marigold veggie powder and somehow usually end up with a satisfying meal topped with shavings of Parmesan – please forgive us!

It was a bit of a challenge to follow your recipe for Venetian Risotto with Butternut Squash. First time recipes always seem more complicated than they are but once into the process things become more straightforward. The idea of pureeing half the squash and reserving the rest as cubes to garnish the top is very clever as it gives that extra layer of texture as well as the visual appeal.

We did not find mashing the squash by hand a problem – much easier than potatoes. I usually add some olive oil and sometimes a knob of butter to our risotto just before serving but resisted it on this occasion and just added the virgin olive oil on the served dish as suggested.

The whole dish came together very nicely and did not need any adjustment to the seasoning (we did in fact use the Marigold powder to make the stock). We both enjoyed this risotto meal very much indeed and could not suggest any changes in any way. It was good to follow a recipe and have a more authentic result and we will definitely try this one again – thank you!”

Roger and Mary

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