Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Butternut squash, pea and streaky bacon risotto

Hello faithful readers, and apologies for the recent lack of posts. We've been on holiday in one of the most beautiful parts of the world: Pembrokeshire. It was certainly a holiday of eating too much, but aren't all holidays? On the first day I made a batch of Ella's Raw Raisin and Ginger Nut Bars, as a healthy snack to munch on during the week when Husb and the Tonjus were eating "bad things", but I ended up having my fair share of naughty things too, such as the most delicious fish and chips in the world, at Bowen's in St Dogmaels. To be honest, I did save myself for that meal. Their fish and chips are beautifully cooked, not oily, and both the fish and the chips are excellent, and the man and woman who run it are lovely, friendly and accommodating. Even when little Tonju took a swig from the bottle of vinegar and had to be brought an urgent glass of water! I'm feeling the effects of eating too much now though: that bloated feeling and the trying to get back to eating the amount one normally eats, rather than holiday extras.

So far this week I've cooked a couple of tasty and seasonal recipes from the latest Tesco Food, Family, Living magazine, which I really want to share with you, but I've been promising a very dear friend a recipe I cooked for her and her boys at my house some time ago. It was extra special because she really wasn't expecting her oldest boy to enjoy it, but he absolutely loved it and she's been asking me for the recipe ever since. It's a slight adjustment to an original recipe by Tana Ramsay, published in Tana Ramsay's Family Kitchen, one of the first proper cookbooks I bought. It was one of those books that was on the shelves of several friends, and was really popular at the time. I have a few favourites from it, this being one of them - Baked pumpkin and fresh pea risotto. I have slightly adjusted the recipe, partially in terms of the method, but I also roast my butternut squash rather than cooking it in the risotto pot with the rice as Tana does. Roasting always gives butternut squash a richer taste, and I have to say, I would always roast squash unless it was imperative not to. I also use frozen rather than fresh peas for ease and dry-fry the pancetta instead of grilling. I have also just realised, used, as I am, to inferring butternut squash for pumpkin, that Tana doesn't even use squash in her recipe. This is becoming an entirely new recipe in its own right!

So without further ado, here's how to make your own Butternut squash, pea and streaky bacon risotto.

Ingredients (for two adults and two small children)

200g arborio risotto rice (or other risotto rice)
700ml chicken stock (from cubes is fine)
knob of butter
One butternut squash
6 slices smoked streaky bacon or pancetta
200g frozen peas
A few tbsp grated parmesan (according to taste)
1 tbsp flat leaf parsley
Salt and pepper

Utensils required: large baking tray and casserole dish with lid


Pre-heat the oven to fan 180C
Peel and deseed the squash, cut into small cubes and place in a baking tray.

Drizzle with olive oil and season before placing in the pre-heated for 45 minutes.

Once the squash is in the oven, prepare the rice.

Measure out the required amount...

...make the stock...

...then add both to the casserole along with the butter.

After the squash has been in the oven for 15 minutes, put the risotto in too.

You can have a little rest at this stage, as there is nothing to do until 10 minutes before the end, so pour yourself a drink and take a break!

Ten minutes from the end of the cooking time, heat up a frying pan to medium high and dry fry the bacon or pancetta until nice and crispy and golden.

While the bacon is cooking, measure out the peas, and when there is five minutes cooking time left, take the risotto out of the oven and add the peas. Stir well and return to the oven for the remaining time. When the bacon is ready, remove from the pan and place on kitchen towel to soak up any excess fat.

At the end of the cooking time, remove the risotto and the squash from the oven...

...and add the squash to the risotto.

Add the parmesan, season according to taste, and stir everything together.

Real-life shot - it's a serious business adding parmesan!

Chop the parsley and bacon, ready to sprinkle over the top.

Serve in pasta bowls (for the adults) and sprinkle with the bacon and parsley, plus a further sprinkling of parmesan, if you like. Finish with a grind of salt and black pepper.

So there you have it. This is one of those meals that goes down superbly well with everyone in the family. It contains cheese and bacon which are instant winners, and the whole combination of foods is just scrummy. It's definitely a hearty meal, but also fresh in a way, with the addition of peas and parsley. I promise you that if you make it, all the members of your family, even the fussy ones, will devour it! 

Do you own this book? It's one that, now I have a fair few cookbooks on my shelves, I don't pick up all that often, but when I do, I'm always reminded of how good the recipes are. The Chicken and Mango Casserole is another favourite, as is the Steak and Guinness pie. Mmmmm!

Well, happy cooking readers. I'd love to know if you make this and if it goes down as well in your household as it does in mine, or if it's quite the opposite!

Until next time,

xxx Sam

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