Hokkaido squash and sage risotto

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Autumn is knocking at the door, and the first hokkaido squashes are here! I love different types of squash, but this one is my favourite. It is not only the wonderful flavour and the beautiful colour, but also the convenience factor of not having to peel it, so this makes it a triple win in my book.

Risotto is regularly made in our household, but seeing the recipe for butternut squash & sage risotto at BBC GoodFood, I was determined to include my favourite hokkaido squash in the recipe.

With the leftover risotto, I made arancini, stuffing them with a pitted black olive for a bit of colour contrast, and deep frying them in oil at 180 C.

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Here is the recipe for the risotto, copied from BBC GoodFood, with the small tweak of using hokkaido pumpkin and a stock cube instead of stock.

Ingredients

1kg hokkaido squash, cut into bite-size chunks
3 tbsp olive oil
bunch sage, leaves picked, half roughly chopped, half left whole
1 vegetable cube
50g butter
1 onion, finely chopped
300g risotto rice
1 small glass white wine
50g parmesan or vegetarian alternative, finely grated

Procedure

1. Before you make the risotto, heat oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7. Toss the squash in 1 tbsp oil together with the chopped sage. Scatter into a shallow roasting tin and roast for 30 mins until it is brown and soft.

2. While the squash is roasting, prepare the risotto. In a pan, melt half the butter over a medium heat. Stir in the onions and sweat gently for 8-10 mins until soft but not coloured, stirring occasionally. Stir the rice into the onions until completely coated in the butter, then stir continuously until the rice is shiny and the edges of the grain start to look transparent.

3. Pour in the wine and simmer until totally evaporated. Add the stock cube. From a boiled kettle, add a ladleful of water at a time, stirring the rice over a low heat for 15-20 mins, until the rice is cooked al dente (with a slightly firm, starchy bite in the middle). The risotto should be creamy and slightly soupy. When you draw a wooden spoon through it, there should be a wake that holds for a few moments but not longer.

4. At the same time, gently fry the whole sage leaves in a little olive oil until crisp, then set aside on kitchen paper. When the squash is cooked, mash half of it to a rough purée and leave half whole. When the risotto is just done, stir though the purée, then add the cheese and butter and leave to rest for a few mins. Serve the risotto scattered with the whole chunks of squash and the crisp sage leaves. We served the risotto as a side to chicken thighs baked in the oven.

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