Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Butternut Squash Risotto with Sancet, Cotes de Gascogne

Butternut Squash is lovely roasted or puréed into Autumn soups but it can also be used in casseroles, breads, muffins and risottos. We have grown it in the Kitchen Garden but ours developed into a monster plant sending its tendrils everywhere! I do like the taste of Butternut Squash, it has a sweet, nutty flavour with a hint of muskiness. When it's ripe it has a gorgeous orange flesh.

Squashes originate from the Americas. The Spanish Conquistadores found the Incas cultivating it in the 15th century and brought it back to the Old World on return from their voyages of discovery. You'd think that they acquired their name from their 'squashy flesh' but the word actually comes from the Massachuset Indian word askutasquash, meaning "eaten raw or uncooked."

The squash was grown by the native American Indians as one of the Three Sisters - beans and corn completed the trio. Whole communities could survive on these alone if game and other foods were scarce. They were also one of the first Companion Plantings, each contributing to the growth and well-being of the others. The corn supplied support for the beans to climb on, and shade for the squash plants during the heat of the day. The squash plants large leaves shaded the ground, prevented weeds, and deterred hungry wildlife that didn’t like to walk through the fuzzy vines. The beans fixed nitrogen in the soil to feed the corn and the squash.

I have a great Risotto recipe using Butternut Squash to share with you that's perfect for Autumn.

Butternut Squash Risotto

1 big butternut squash (about 2lb in weight), peeled, seeded and chopped into small cubes
3 tbsp olive oil
3 leeks, sliced
250g arborio rice
450ml vegetable stock
handful of fresh basil, chopped
grated Parmesan cheese (to taste)
freshly ground black pepper

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan and sauté the butternut squash until it starts to soften and brown. Remove the squash. Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and cook the leeks until tender. Add the arborio rice and a third of the vegetable stock and simmer until all the liquid has been absorbed, stirring frequently. Keep adding the remaining liquid until it has all been used up. Pop the squash back into the pan and cook till its heated through and creamy. Stir in the basil, parmesan and black pepper. Serve with a sliver of parmesan on top.

Wine Pairing

Butternut Squash Risotto is great with Sancet, Côtes de Gascogne – this is a wine made with Colombard, Ugni Blanc, Gros Manseng and Sauvignon Blanc beautifully balanced, bright, and refreshing with lush flavours of ripe pear, melon, guava, cucumber, apple and lemon. There is a light beeswax note which adds complexity, a hint of slight sweetness and a touch of minerality on the finish.


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