Heart + Bowl has been a long time coming, but I am please to say that I have finally launched, and hopefully that I am here to stay! Yikes. Please excuse me while I do a little dance of excitement. This week’s been a bit of a whirlwind week for me. With a trip to Ireland, a friend’s birthday meal, a wedding reception and trying to launch my blog, it’s been a fair amount of crazy in the world of Anna. But alas! I have managed to churn out my first post, a Butternut Squash and Pancetta Risotto, and I’m happy to report that it was quite a success. It better have been really, I’ve been perfecting this recipe for years.
I thought the best way to kick off Heart + Bowl was with one of my tried and tested recipes, and really one of the first meals I ever truly refined and adapted myself.
While the pancetta in the risotto really sings, FEAR NOT vegetarians, because this dish still works when omitting the meat. I’ve made a veggie version of this dish for a friend, and sprinkled over a few toasted pine nuts, which was just as wholesome and tasty.
The fresh sage in this recipe really brings the whole dish together, so don’t skimp on it. Thinking about using dry herbs instead? Don’t evvvvvven think about it. I can guarantee it won’t be as good.
The best advice I can give you when tackling this recipe is to treat the rice like you would a young born baby, by giving it all of your attention. You don’t have to worry about changing dirty nappies though. You’ll need to keep stirring the rice (almost constantly), and adding stock little by little to get the best texture and consistency.
So that’s my first post! Phew! That wasn’t as terrifying as I thought it would be. I was all kinds of nervous that something would go horribly wrong. But look, there are words, photos, an ingredients list, and a recipe *points proudly*. If you’re reading this or just taking a browse, sorry for my weird attempts at so-called humour, and well… Thanks for popping by! I hope I haven’t scared you off by my terrible jokes, and please come back again soon.
- 1 medium-sized butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut in 2cm cubes
- 100g cubetti di pancetta, cubed
- 4 pancetta strips, grilled and crisped to decorate
- 250g arborio risotto rice
- 1 large onion, sliced finely
- 2 garlic gloves, finely minced
- 900ml hot, good quality vegetable or chicken stock
- bunch of fresh sage, roughly chopped
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 3 tbsp garlic oil
- While chopping all the ingredients, preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Place the chopped butternut squashed into a roasting tray and drizzle with 2 tbsp of garlic oil. Place in the oven and roast for 20-25 minutes, or until soft.
- Meanwhile, fry off the pancetta cubes until brown and crispy, and place to one side for later. In a separate pan fry off the onion and garlic slowly on a medium heat with the remaining 1 tbsp of garlic oil.
- Once soft, add the risotto rice to the pan for a few minutes until it begins to turn clear. Then begin to add the stock a ladleful at a time, stirring frequently, waiting for the stock to be soaked up by the rice each time before adding another ladle. Nearing the end of the stock, season to taste and add a handful of freshly chopped sage, leaving a small amount leftover to decorate.
- Once all the stock has been used, taste to check that the rice is soft, but still slightly aldente. If the rice is still too firm, keep adding some more stock a ladle at a time until it is just right. Now that the rice is cooked, stir through the crispy pancetta cubes and roasted butternut squash.
- Season again if needed and serve. You can decorate your risotto by placing over a few of the crispy pancetta strips and topping with a little fresh sage.
For a non dairy-free version, melt a handful of cheese into the risotto near to the end of cooking, for a more creamy texture.