In an effort to ensure we eat healthily and to divert some of our household expenditure from the supermarkets we are weekly recipients of an organic veg box chez Yapp. While I think this is an admirable idea (and they do include some useful recipes) you can soon find yourself stockpiling some of the less popular and perishable vegetables if you aren't vigilant. One gourd that seems to replicate like the mops in 'The Sorcerer's Apprentice' is butternut squash; you know you have one lurking in the larder and when you investigate you find you've got half a dozen. Soup is an obvious and not unpopular solution but you can only enjoy so much of it so we hatched 'Plan B' – risotto.

Risotto is one of those deceptively simple dishes (see also Bolognese sauce) that many think they have mastered but few do real justice. As ever timing and quality of the raw materials are key. Purists aver that the best risotto rice is the 'arborio' grown near the eponymous town in the Po valley. It has a high starch content so requires more work in the pan but if cooked diligently will yield the silkiest texture. Good quality stock and wine are also essential, ditto decent, freshly-grated parmesan and extra virgin olive oil. Less is more here in terms of ingredients the only other requirements being, onion, garlic and sage.


Roasted butternut squash

Roasted butternut squash


I start off by roasting peeled, chopped and de-seeded butternut squash in the oven having generously dressed it with olive oil, garlic and sage. That softens the flesh and concentrates the flavour and it can then be set aside but kept warm. I then get a heavy-bottomed pan and add oil and finely diced onion which should be cooked gently until softened but not browned. You then add about 100 grams of rice per person dining and a spot more oil to coat the rice if required. The rice should be stirred into the onions for a couple of minutes before adding half a glass of dry, white wine for every 100 grams of rice. The rice should then be stirred continuously until the wine has been absorbed and can then be seasoned with salt and pepper and a little more chopped sage. You now add a ladle of warm vegetable stock and stir the pan on a gentle simmer until that too has been absorbed. You keep on adding stock and stirring the rice for a further 20 minutes until it has reached a creamy texture and can be spooned into a bowl but won't stand in peaks. It is not a process that can be hurried so a Podcast of Dessert Island Discs or suchlike might be welcome.

You can now add a generous handful of parmesan and the lightly-mashed flesh of the butternut squash to the pan and fold all the ingredients together before serving in warm shallow bowls. I would partner that with a trusty weekday white like this month's Chinon: Domaine Jean-Maurice Raffault Blanc 2016, although a light-ish red such as Saumur: Domaine Filliatreau Château Fouquet Rouge 2015 or toothsome rosé like te Menetou Salon: Domaine Jean Teiller Rosé 2015 would be equally enjoyable.


April Wines of the Month: £80.00 per case (of six bottles) delivered, saving £18.40 on list prices.