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Butternut Squash Risotto



Aah, risotto. Some years back, when I was a young and naive undergraduate, I had never heard of risotto. It was a shame, really, because I love congee (perhaps the ultimate Asian comfort food) -- which is very similar, except it's a little runnier toppings go onto the finish product, instead of being mixed in at the end of cooking. Oh, it's delicious. This risotto was one of the first things Daniel cooked for me -- and I knew straight away that something special was going on.

This particular risotto is good because it's simple. Not a whole lot goes into it, but the individual flavors really come through. And don't be scared off because you've heard risotto is so time-consuming -- at the most, this recipe will take you an hour to throw together, and every minute is worth it.

Butternut Squash Risotto

1 large butternut squash (~2 lbs), peeled, seeded, chopped into 1/2" chunks
4 tbsp olive oil

6 cups vegetable broth

3 large leeks (white and pale green parts only), thinly sliced
2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tbsp chopped fresh sage

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place squash on large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss to coat. Roast until tender and beginning to brown, stirring occasionally, about 40 minutes.

Bring stock to simmer in heavy large saucepan. Reduce heat to very low; cover and keep stock warm.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in another heavy large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add leeks and sauté until soft but not brown, about 10 minutes. Add rice; stir 1 minute. Add wine and simmer until absorbed, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup hot stock; simmer until absorbed, stirring frequently. Add remaining stock 1/2 cup at a time, allowing stock to be absorbed before adding more and stirring frequently, until rice is tender and mixture is creamy, about 25 minutes longer. Add roasted squash, cream, Parmesan cheese and sage; stir until heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm.


Bon Appétit, December 1999
Serves 4 as a main course.

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Double Potato and Halloumi Bake



Some of my favorite foods include stews, risottos, and roasts. Unfortunately, it's always too hot in the summer to even attempt any of these (who wants to turn the oven on when it's 90 degrees out?). But as soon as the temperature starts to dip, I'm whipping out the arborio rice and the roasting pans. We made this dish recently to bring to accompany some delicious steaks (thanks, Jack!). This recipe is a tried-and-true favorite, done up in true Nigella style with simple ingredients and a super-fast prep time. You don't even have to peel the garlic cloves! But please don't skimp on the halloumi, and do eat it as soon as you can without burning the roof of your mouth off.

Double Potato and Halloumi Bake:

Serves 6

1 large sweet potato
1 large Desiree potato, or other red/firm potato
1 red onion
1 yellow pepper
1 red peppers
1/2 head Garlic
4 tbsp Olive oil
1 pinch Pepper
125g halloumi cheese, sliced as thinly as you can

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

2. Cut the sweet potato into rough 1.5" cubes and the Desiree slightly smaller (1") as the sweet potato will cook more quickly.

3. Halve the red onion then cut the half into 4-6 segments, discarding any tough outer skin.

4. De-seed the peppers and cut into 1" squares, and separate the cloves of garlic.

5. Put everything into a large roasting tin or whatever you want to use (it should be big, otherwise use two dishes) and, using your hands, give the vegetables a good coating of olive oil. Season with black pepper, but no salt as the cheese will make it salty (and anyway, the salt will make water leech out).

6. Cook for 45 minutes, by which time the vegetables should be cooked through and here and there tinged with brown.

7. You'll need to turn the oven up to maximum, or light the grill for the endgame: so place the thinly sliced cheese on top of the bake, and put it back in the very hot oven or under the grill until the cheese has melted and turned slightly brown on top, about 5-10 minutes. Serve straight out of the roasting tin.




Recipe originally from Nigella Bites. She states that the recipe feeds 3, but if you're using this as a side dish, you'll easily get at least 6 servings out of it.

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