Butternut squash and kale risotto

This type of thing sounds like it’ll be hard work. But it’s really very easy. The only warning I would give is that with a risotto you can’t really take your eye off the ball. Well, I do, a bit, but as long as your back at the hob before too long (like, 10 seconds!), you’ll be OK. With a glass of wine in hand, really it’s a ready made excuse for someone else to see to the children (“I can’t see to him/her, I’m stirring the risotto!!). The squash is roasted in the oven in little cubes, which is a simple and delicious way of cooking it – and it’s done in 20-25 mins. Even if you’re not planning a risotto, try cooking it this way then dotting butter and dribbling maple syrup over to serve. Yes, you heard me right! I’ve been reading lots of American blogs. Love that very American way of mixing of sweet and savoury.

Can we talk about Kale? The French (apparently) hate it and feed it to the pigs. Gwyneth (no surname required) makes crisps out of it and gives it to her kids – never done that and keep meaning to try it. I love Kale. It’s very iron-y tasting, but preferably so to spinach which, cooked plainly on its own, I find almost too much so. It’s got quite a rough texture, but in a risotto it’s smothered in the starchy, cheesy liquid. It lends an earthy and robust edge to this otherwise rich dish. And my son, who certainly isn’t a fan (or come to that my husband) wolfed this down. Either he didn’t notice the green stuff or the copious amounts of parmesan disguised the taste successfully. Either way, I say kale FTW IMHO. (Translation: kale for the win in my honest opinion)

To make enough for 4 adults: 
1 butternut squash, peeled, roasted in smallish cubes (about 2cm)
200g kale, chopped roughly if not already
4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1 large onion finely chopped
Handful of fresh sage, chopped roughly
Large glass of white wine
1 litre of vegetable stock (if using shop bought I advise making half as strong as recommended)
400g risotto rice (I used Carnoroli)
100g parmesan cheese
Half a lemon
Salt and pepper
Extra virgin olive oil

  • Preheat oven to 180C. Peel and cube your squash. Tip into the pan and toss in oil. Add your fresh sage (do not use dried, awful stuff!). Season well with S&P. Roast for 20-25 minutes, turning them over once or twice during cooking. 
  • Steam your kale until almost cooked, about 10 minutes or so. Drain and set aside. 
  • Meanwhile, get started on the rice. Soften your onions and garlic in a tablespoon of olive oil. Don’t colour, just soften. Now tip in your rice and stir to coat in oil. Add a glass of wine and let the alcohol sizzle off for a few minutes. 
  • Have the hot stock ready in a saucepan with a ladle. Begin labelling in the stock and stirring. When the stock is almost sucked up by the rice, add a ladle more. Carry on doing that until the rice is plump and cooked. It’ll take about 25-30 minutes or so. If you run out of stock boil the kettle and add hot water instead. You shouldn’t with the amount recommended. 
  • Once the rice is cooked – it should be plump and still have a teeny weeny bit of bite left to it). Fold the kale in. Tip the squash with sage in also and gently combine, keeping a few roasted cubes aside to put on top.  
  • Squeeze the lemon, season well. Add the grated parmesan. Stir, taste. You may want to add a splash of water to loosen. Serve with few more roasted cubes of squash, more parmesan and some good oil to dribble on top.
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