You know those really irritating people in January who go all ‘holier than thou’? The ones that were so much fun in December suddenly spend all of January banging on about the benefits of kale and quinoa whilst swigging from their NutriBullet cups on their way to the gym or hot yoga. Twitter and instagram are full of them. The magazines are full of articles about them. You can’t escape them. Annoyingly, I am one of them!
As you may have seen from my last post, I decided to start 2015 with a healthy new outlook. I’m usually the one moaning about those ‘kale types’, whilst I take another bite of my burger and wash it down with gin. I have always been of the belief that January is depressing enough without depriving oneself of all your favourite foods.
However, this year I felt a little different. I actually felt like my body was crying out for vegetables and was genuinely a little fed up of the constant stream of butter, cream, cheese, pastry, cake and chocolate. Unlike me, I know, but its how I felt. So I decided to cut out the crap for a while, and focus on healthier meals. No more bacon rolls on my way into the office, no more biscuits at 11am, no more burgers at lunchtime, crisps and chocolate at 4pm and then off out for a rich three-course meal in the evening, to come home and have a cheeky wee chocolate Hob Nob or two before going to bed.
I thought I’d suffer, I thought it would be hard, I thought I’d have constant cravings…but I didn’t. One week in I realised I hadn’t had any meat, but I wasn’t missing it so I decided to carry on the way I was. This is now my third week with no meat and I’m still not missing it. In fact, I’m rather enjoying coming up with new things to do with vegetables. Talking of which, I had a butternut squash in my kitchen last night (I don’t know quite why I said it like that, it sounds like it popped round for a visit!) Anyway, I often turn this into soup or chop it up, roast it and serve with salad, toasted pecans and blue cheese…mmmmmmm. However, last night I decided to make a risotto out of it. I didn’t want to use white risotto rice so I used this brown risotto rice from Biona Organic. Obviously if you want to use white risotto rice, you can, and it would take a hell of a lot less time than this one did to cook.
This recipe serves 4 regular portions or 3 large portions. I ate it in 3.
1 x butternut squash, diced (mine was about 350g after I peeled it and diced it)
1 x white onion, diced
3 x garlic cloves, chopped
1 litre vegetable stock
200g brown risotto rice
a few sage leaves, chopped (be careful, its a very strong flavour)
salt & pepper to season
2 tbsp olive oil
Begin by pre-heating the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4.
Place the diced butternut squash on a baking tray and drizzle with a tbsp of olive oil. Grate some fresh nutmeg over the squash (optional, but it really does taste good if you have it) and season with salt and pepper. Toss to mix then place in the oven for about 20 minutes until tender and starting to brown around the edges.
Meanwhile, heat the other tbsp of oil in a large pan and add the chopped onion and garlic and cook for a few minutes until the onion is soft and translucent.
Add the rice and stir through until it is coated in the oil. Then add about two ladles of vegetable stock and simmer until it has been absorbed. Add more stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring gently until it is absorbed before adding more.
After about 50 minutes (30 minutes if using white rice), add the butternut squash and the sage and continue to add stock. If you run out of stock and you feel the rice still needs more liquid to absorb, just add some boiling water from the kettle.
This took me about 90 minutes to cook as the rice just didn’t seem to want to cook! Obviously its different with white risotto rice so if you want to eat the night to cook this, use white! If you’re cooking for the next day, this brown rice really is lovely.
Season with salt and pepper and garnish with more sage leaves. I also grated a little more nutneg over the top and stirred it through.
And there you have it…a really lovely, warming, delicious and creamy dish that is perfect for a cold winter’s night.