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Squash risotto – a dish with character

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squash risottoMy love of risotto runs deep. It is a dish with character and personality. It is almost like me – it needs attention, if you can’t give enough, it turns nasty.

I mentioned before that you can hardly ever have good risotto in a restaurant or a pub if it’s not run by a devoted Italian family.

I was embarrassed by Boyfriend’s father once in a very nice pub. As it happens, the only vegetarian option was mushroom risotto and based on my experience I expected it to be horrible. And it was. You couldn’t find mushrooms in it with a magnifying glass, tasted of nothing and it was overcooked. I bitched about it for 5 minutes, just because I love bitching. Then the waitress came and asked if we liked the food and Boyfriend’s dad said : ‘Yes, food was really good, apart from risotto, but that’s just because she can make it better’. I was afraid to have a desert because I expected them to spit in it. And who can blame them.

So, don’t make risotto if you can’t give all your attention, passion and love. Italians say you should only make risotto for people you love, and it’s true.


Squash risotto


Butter squash


clove of garlic

arborio rice(half a glass for 2 people)



sage or thyme

small glass of white wine

water or vegetable stock ( about 2 pints)

2 spoons of olive oil

knob of butter


1. It’s always the same to start with – warm the oil in a pot, add knob of butter. Add crushed garlic. I’m not saying how much garlic, it depends if you want to scare all the vampires away (or your lover) or not. Entirely up to you. I worship garlic.

2. Never make risotto on a hot hob or high gas. As low as possible is the best. Remember, patience is a virtue. At least when it comes to risotto. You don’t want to burn it, make it too runny or undercooked.

3. At the same time, if you are a multitasker (if not, do it first) peel the butter squash, cut it into chunky squares, get rid of the seedy inside, grill the chunks. You can do it using the grill pan or the grill, it doesn’t take long.

4. In the meantime add risotto rice , stir it and let it be coated with oil, add some water or stock into the pan, stir, cover and wait till the liquid is absorbed.

5. Then add some more water, and repeat that until rice starts getting tender and thickens. Add wine (advice for recovering alcoholics and people who are teetotalers or who don’t drink for religious reasons or if you are cooking for children – use apple juice). I worship wine.

6. Then cook slowly till it thickens, add a pinch of salt, some pepper, sometimes I use sage and sometimes thyme, you can use any herbs you like.

7. Add roasted squash and lemon zest( from the whole lemon). You can add a few drops of lemon juice. It’s good to cover remaining lemon with cling film so it won’t get hard and dry without the skin.

8. Pre-warm your plates. Serve with vegetarian parmesan.


About potatofaces

People who cook always go on about precious memories of childhood food one of their family members cooked, how daddy or nanny taught them the importance of cooking and eating together, and they still remember the comfort food they produced, amazing dishes whipped up by brilliant but humble cooks in their family. Well, let me tell you, it was totally different in my family. My mother’s family – totally useless as cooks, who could survive on bread and butter, cooked once a week a terrible, terrible meal, usually some kind of meat piece with lots of brown sauce. Also, they were never bothered about eating together. That’s maybe why most of them were depressed and suicidal. My mother followed that path and couldn’t really cook, and because I never wanted to eat meat, was warning me that ‘one day I will regret it’. Probably because my mother wasn’t into cooking my sister at the age of 12 took over and started producing amazing dinners and cakes. Well, luckily for me and her we weren’t that genetically doomed because apparently my father’s family were gifted in that compartment. I can only presume it was genes, as my father divorced my mother when my sis and me were little and he strongly believed that he also divorced us. So, we were growing up never having any contact with him and as a result, couldn’t learn how to cook from him. That’s why I believe the love of cooking ( and the ability) was just passed to us genetically. My father, short time before he died, unexpectedly felt an urge to contact us. First he gave my sister a mandolin (that’s another thing I know about him- he played a few instruments). My sister refused to talk to him, he then decided to contact me and wanted to spend some time with me. I didn’t want to, as he was a stranger to me (I was 11 or 12 at the time) but as I was promised I could leave whenever I wanted to, I went to the village he lived in. There I tried his mother’s cooking everyone was raving about. It was simple and amazing, I wish they were as family dedicated as they were at baking, cooking, making pastries, wine, tinctures, you name it. But I ate, drunk, and got bored of strangers who were my family and demanded to be let to go home. One of the last things my father said to me was that I should start learning English because I might need it one day, which I ignored for another 16 years… Because my sister was such a domestic goddess I wasn’t really bothered about cooking. I got hooked properly after my son was born and I wanted him to eat healthy and get everything he needed, especially that it wasn’t his choice to be a vegetarian (yet). And that is how the story begins…

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