Apple, Squash and Cheese Risotto

This delicious and hearty Autumnal dish is perfect served on its own or with a side dish. Italians would use a glass of white wine in the recipe but we have found that our own dry cider is an excellent substitute for wine in this or any other risotto recipe!

Ingredients

  • 450g/1lb peeled squash or pumpkin - cubed
  • 2 tasty large apples - cubed
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large, chopped onion
  • 2tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 2 cloves of finely chopped fresh garlic
  • 115g/4oz young spinach leaves – shredded
  • 200g/7oz Lancashire or Feta cheese
  • 60g/2oz grated Parmesan cheese
  • 150ml/ ¼ pt dry cider
  • 850ml/1 ½ pt seasoned vegetable stock
  • Black pepper and salt to taste
  • 350g/12oz good quality risotto rice – Carnaroli, Vialone Nano or Arborio are recommended
  • Garnish with fresh sage leaves lightly fried & crisp

Method

  1. Toss the cubed squash in olive oil, place on a baking tray and cover with aluminium foil. Put in a moderate oven: 375 º F , 190 º C or gas reg.5. When tender remove the foil and brown for 5- 10 minutes till golden.
  2. Meanwhile heat the stock in a saucepan and keep it at a slow simmer. Sauté the onions, garlic with the rapeseed oil in a large saucepan until the onions are tender and translucent. Add the rice and stir well until all the grains are coated with oil and then cook for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Pour the cider into the rice, stirring well. Then progressively add the hot vegetable stock, a ladleful at a time, allowing the liquid to be absorbed before adding more. Keep stirring throughout the cooking process in order to prevent the rice from sticking. Continue cooking until the rice is al dente and beginning to get creamy.
  4. When the squash is almost ready, put the cheese cubes on a baking tray and heat in the oven until the cheese melts around the edges.
  5. Mash half of the cooked squash and stir it into risotto along with the parmesan cheese, spinach, freshly ground pepper and apple cubes. Adjust the seasoning and continue to stir over a low heat until the spinach is wilted and the apple is heated through and beginning to soften.
  6. Ladle into serving bowls and top with the remaining cubes of roasted squash, the cheese, freshly ground black pepper and decorate with the lightly fried and crisp fresh sage leaves.