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With Love from Malta: Lemon Squash Risotto

8/04/2013 by Kate in Recipes, Vegetarian 0

This bowl of happiness is inspired by Nic’s home of Malta, which is right next door to Sicily. There is no Parmigiano cheese in the risotto itself but a little lemon zest ricotta on top. And instead of using wine at the beginning we use a splash of balsamic vinegar for a gorgeous balance of sweet and acidic that goes so well with the roasted squash. As I said last night, I wouldn’t say risotto is exactly a weight loss food (although it all depends on your portion sizes), but when you are back in balance with your body it’s pure comfort that won’t tip the scales out of favour.

Serves 2
100g butternut squash, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tbsp groundnut oil
Goof pinch Maldon salt
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 tsp butter
100g arborio rice (this is quite a small portion to keep on the light side, you can also have a go using pearl barley, if you are feeling righteous)
Splash of balsamic vinegar
600-750ml vegetable stock
80g ricotta
zest of 1/4-1/2 lemon (to taste)
Handful of watercress or rocket leaves
1 tsp dukkah spice (optional)

Pre-heat the oven to Gas 7/220 C

  1. Prepare the butternut squash and toss in the olive oil and salt before putting in an oven-proof dish and roasting for about 25-30 minutes. They tend to be ready just as the risotto is (give a shake half way through cooking).
  2. In a large saucepan, melt the butter over a moderate heat and then add the onion. Soften for 8-10 minutes before adding the rice. Mix the rice and onions well so that the rice is nicely coated, allow to ‘toast’ for just a couple of minutes as this will provide a good consistency for your risotto.
  3. Now add the splash of balsamic vinegar, stir into the rice and allow it to be fully absorbed before adding a ladle of stock. Keep the risotto very gently bubbling and add a couple of ladles of stock at a time. It should be ready after about 20 minutes but you really need to go by consistency. The rice should be soft but not mushy or stodgy.
  4. In the meantime, put the ricotta into a bowl and grate over lemon zest, mix it in gently.
  5. When the risotto and squash are ready take off the heat and add the squash to the risotto, stirring through. If you are feeling a little naughty add a little butter as it just gives the risotto a lastminute lift. Serve in bowls, with the ricotta and leaves scattered over the top.
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