30 Dec 2017

Easy risotto with garden grown Squash(kin)


~ Squashkin, butternut and Old Boer White pumpkin ~

Let me tell you about one of the loveliest and tastiest squashes that I grew this year. I'm never without a butternut squash lurking somewhere in my kitchen so wanted to grow my own this year.  But how much better to grow a squash in the shape of a pumpkin! My eyes lit up when I saw seeds of a new hybrid called 'Squashkin' in the Marshall's catalogue last year and I promptly ordered some. But first, another tale.

I was never the child that tore into Easter eggs or birthday presents, instead I teased out the moment, savouring every tuck in the paper or release of tape, trying desperately to avoid a glimpse of what was inside. I could leave my Easter eggs in their cellophane for weeks and know it annoyed my siblings no end that I still had chocolate long after theirs had been eaten. It was my way of eking out the anticipation and choosing the right moment to indulge. Until, that is, a particularly beautiful Easter chocolate sculpture of birds in a nest with their speckled eggs was left too long in the sun and melted. Dismay, disappointment and regret ensued.



Why mention this now? Well, I've been at it again, prolonging the moment to cook the squashes and pumpkins that I grew this year. Harvested in late October, they've sat in my kitchen ever since, where I can admire their rustic beauty. (Does anyone else feel like that about their pumpkins? I'd grow them for looks alone!) I searched through my cook books for inspiration, something delicious that both my son and I would enjoy. I wasn't sure that he'd be too interested in roasted veg, while soup didn't seem to do this beautiful vegetable justice. (Although I've since found a promising recipe in an old Delia book, rescued from my mum's kitchen last year.)



Finally, yesterday, it was time. After all the cooking and eating of indulgent Christmas fare, I wanted to cook something quick, easy and soothing. Risotto ... with the Squashkin. Way back in spring, I'd been tempted by descriptions of this squash being a hybrid with the thin skin and keeping qualities of a butternut and the superior aromatic flavours of a Crown Prince. So I anticpated that the skin would be easy to slice.  It was - as easy, if not easier than a butternut whose skin had hardened on a supermarket shelf. I also hoped that the flesh had ripened enough. Apparently, yes. (It wasn't a huge pumpkin and took ages to appear - in 2018 I'm sowing earlier.) A check round the kitchen gave me onions, garlic, chorizo, herbs and stock. Dinner was served half an hour later with some butter-fried chestnut mushrooms. (Peas and greens added after photo. Oops.)
😋



I always make extra for leftovers lunch the next day. This was so good that the pot was scraped clean for second helpings. Risotto is so easy to make that I feel silly offering this as a recipe - consider it more as inspiration. Sometimes I use leeks or shallots rather than onions, or stir blue cheese rather than parmesan through at the end, or no cheese at all, or perhaps some chicken leftover from a roast with sliced red bell peppers or a sprinkle of chilli flakes. A risotto of frozen peas and parmesan is perfect for small children - although squash added to that makes it very pretty and just as popular. I just love that the base dish is so adaptable. And there's no need for all that stirring and waiting, although that in itself can be very soothing.  My son, being a student with no time for faffing in the kitchen, taught me to throw everything in after sweating off the onions. He puts his in a big Le Creuset pot, gives it a good stir, pops the lid on and leaves it in a medium oven for 40 minutes. It tastes just the same.

The real reason for writing this post is to suggest Squashkin as a good vegetable to grow next year if you have the space. (Allow one square metre per plant.) The flavour was really good - and definitely superior to supermarket butternut squash and big orange pumpkins. Cooked in the stock with the rice, the chunks of squash softened and absorbed the other flavours and the end result was utterly delicious.  Job done!


(Recipe provided for anyone that has never made risotto.)

Easy Squash and Chorizo Risotto for 2-3 people

140g arborio rice
700ml hot stock (I use half home-made chicken stock, half Marigold bouillon)
1 medium onion, chopped finely
2 large garlic cloves, sliced very thinly
Half a large squash, about 600g before peeling
1 teaspoon of dried herbs (or fresh finely chopped thyme/rosemary from the garden)
125g chorizo, chopped into very small pieces (or buy a pack from Waitrose :D )
Olive oil and a half-ounce knob of butter

Add a splash of olive oil to a large casserole pot or non-stick pan. Have the pot over a low flame. Melt the butter in the oil and add the finely chopped onion. Stir to coat and cook on a very low heat until soft and translucent. Don't let the onion pieces burn but a long sweating is good as this sweetens them. Peel, deseed and cube the squash. Add the squash cubes to the onion as you go, stirring in. After 10 minutes or so, add the finely sliced garlic and cook gently for a minute.

Add the rice, stir to coat with the pan juices. Sprinkle with herbs, if using. After a minute, add a good splash of hot stock. Stir. After another minute of stirring, add all the remaining hot stock and stir for a few seconds. Pop a lid on and leave it to simmer, checking every once in a while to give it a stir and make sure nothing is sticking to the pan.

When the rice is soft (I like mine slightly over cooked, rather than 'al dente'), add the chorizo and stir through to heat. (At this stage cheese and/or chopped parsley can be added.) There you go, dish up and it's ready to eat. 



19 comments:

  1. Is the Squashkin a trailing squash? I'm attempting a squash grotto again this year and need better traillers...
    Thanks

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    1. Hi Belinda, Yes, this is a trailing squash - although I admit I didn't look after it as well as I should. It was grown in a bed with Honeyboat Squash and took a fair bit of untangling when clearing off dying leaves to ripen the fruit. I would guess that the stems were longer than 5ft growing along the ground but next year I'll nip off the growing tip once a couple of fruits have set which I didn't do this year. Hope this helps.

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  2. Yum - love the addition of chorizo!

    Unlike this year, in 2016 I had a bumper crop of winter squash (over 28 kilos!) and still had a few that were doing fine in the relative cool of our basement (18C) a year later, including a few butternuts. They are incredible keepers!

    My family is not a fan of squash (it's usually relegated to my solo lunches) but one way that they actually enjoy it is incorporated into a creamy risotto. I, of course, did a "tell me if you like this and guess what it is" type of thing when serving it for the first time as I didn't want any pre-conceived notions to colour their impressions. All of them loved it but not one guessed it was squash (I used white wine to temper the sweetness). That is an awesome trick for cooking the risotto in the Le Creuset pot- I'm not much one for stirring, so I will definitely give that a try!

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    1. Haha, yes chorizo with everything in this family! I'm currently chopping it to a crumb texture and have even added it to a spinach and watercress soup I make - with cream, of course! Mmm, Yum! I totally agree with the stirring thing, unless I'm listening to a good podcast or radio programme, I rarely have time to stand and stir for long. Glad I've inspired you to give it a go but keep a check on the timings, I wouldn't want your risotto to burn!

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  3. We also eat lots of butternut squash and I did try growing it two years ago without any success. We also have grown Crown Prince in the past.I like the way that you have savored it and admired it's rustic beauty over the past few months too. Your rissotto looks delicious! Sarah x

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    1. Oh, it was, Sarah! I'm a big fan of risottos (can you tell? haha!) and love to add a variety of flavours. I just fell in love with Squashkin - it's the pale honey colour of a butternut but the flavour was excellent - I'd love you to give it a go if you've tried to grow butternuts in the past - seeds from Marshalls. Caro xx

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  4. We grow Crown Prince but as you say we need a saw it cut into it so we may try Squashkin. We always need to freeze half at least of a Crown Prince as they are usually rather large, We use them in squares, curries, tagines and for pumpkin pie but have never use one for a risotto. Good to hear of students cooking.

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    1. The thick skin is what's always put me off growing Crown Prince, Sue, so I was delighted to give Squashkin a go and it really delivered all that was promised. 10 seeds for £1.99 doesn't seem too bad if you order other seeds from Marshalls - although it's the postage cost when ordering from several suppliers that puts me off.
      I like the sound of using squash in curry, I hadn't thought of that so thanks! And yes, student cooking - the apple didn't fall far from the tree with my son - he loves to know how I've cooked something and had a recipe file to take to college with him!

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  5. I'm going to try your recipe in the near future, but with Crown prince Squash as that what I've grown this year.
    Its interesting you got good results with Squashkin, because I've found it to be a dismal failure for me, 1st sowing resulted in no plants, 2nd sowing got me plants, but they refused to set any fruits... ever. so gave up and grew basic butter nuts.

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    1. Oh that's so disappointing June - although I confess that I thought for ages that I wouldn't get any fruit and - suddenly! - there it was. I grew mine in recently well manured soil, the rain we've had helped and the open sunny aspect of the allotment. But I've read in Carol Klein's book that they should be fed fortnightly when growing - perhaps that might have helped your fruit set? Butter nuts are supposed to be hard to grow in the UK but I've never had a problem with them either! :D Hope it all works out for you this year. (I should really grow Crown Prince as a comparison - if only I had a full sized allotment!)

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  6. That does look delicious. Good to hear your son looks after himself! All the very best to you and yours.xxx

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    1. Ah thank you Dina - good to read on your blog that things are starting to go well for you. As for the offspring looking after himself, he's living at home at the moment, what can I tell you! Not much self-help going on there for the time being! Still, I love having him at home for a while. :D! xx

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  7. Great and timely post. I vowed as we drove back from London yesterday not to food shop till Friday next. Instead I plan to use stuff from the freezer and that includes several bags of allotment butternut squash- pre-cooked from Autumn crops. There are bags of raspberries, stewed apricots, broad beans, cooked cabbage and Italian tomato sauce for soups. Love the idea that you have inspired your son to cook at uni.

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    1. My fridge and freezer are the same, Sue, which is a good thing, right? We've saved up tastes of summer and autumn for now. I've got blackcurrants, raspberries, stewed apples (lovely on pancakes with cream!), broad beans, mango (not home grown, obvs!) and tomato sauce. I didn't know you could freeze cooked cabbage, that's worth knowing! My son and his friends all cook, it doesn't stop them heading for a takeout now and then but it helps with the student budget if they can club together for big home cooked meals!

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  8. This is good. I'm bookmarking the page. Not just for the recipe but it's made me think . . I have a new allotment and it's going to take a while to get into shape. If I grow squashes on part of it . . . it will fill up space that would otherwise look a bit bare. One day I'll have all sorts of things . . . raspberries . . blackcurrants . . . runner beans . . . everything. Well, I'll have runner beans this year! And squashes with their wonderful golden flowers running round all over the place!

    https://looseandleafyinhalifax.blogspot.co.uk/

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    1. Exciting to have a new allotment! Wow, that didn't take long - no waiting lists in Halifax? If anything, that's a very good reason to move to Yorkshire! Squashes and pumpkins, yes, if the soil is good - they like a really rich soil and feeding - also potatoes! They'll fill up a big space quickly as well, and do lovely things to break up the soil, if needed. Looking forward to reading all about it, Lucy!

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    2. Vacancies on this one! It's ten minutes walk from the house and I put a deposit on it even in advance of moving here! (Exclamation marks seem appropriate.) My particular plot is grassy and needing to be cleared somewhat (not too difficult because there are no brambles or nettles it's just a matter of time - though there is a large area with plastic under the soil and a pile of doors on top of it - very odd). But there are wonderful gardeners on the site with brilliant plots. I could have had mine treated with weedkiller before I took it over but chose not to so there will be quite a lot to do before it's properly up and running.
      I first introduced it on the new Loose and Leafy in Halifax blog here

      https://looseandleafyinhalifax.blogspot.co.uk/2017/08/the-allotment.html

      I'm not sure about potatoes. The person who initially showed me round said the soil is good down to a depth of twelve inches so am not sure I want to turn it over too much. Soft fruit seems very popular - raspberry canes and currant bushes were dripping with fruit when we arrived and everyone seems to have strawberry beds. Indeed on my plot they are growing all over the place like weeds. Not sure whether to gather them together or start from scratch. You might have ideas on that?
      I am very fortunate to have the allotment as there is no garden at my house. If I didn't have a special place of my own where I can pretend to be in the country I'd find it very hard being in such a densely populated area.
      Was admiring some giant cabbages today. It may be that one needs to use a lot of feed to get the good results everyone else is achieving . . .
      Oh and a water supply to every plot.
      You have no idea how my insides swell with a sense of good fortune as I describe all this.
      My worry though is about not having a greenhouse and I can't afford one so growing from seed and bringing on before planting out is going to be a bit . . . well, will work something out!

      I was up there today taking photographs so the next post on Loose and Leafy in Halifax will be about the progress of my onions. (Probably Friday.)

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  9. Sold! I've just added Squashkin to my ever-lengthening seed list! Happy new year!

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    1. Hahah! I daren't open the seed catalogues until I've emptied the seed box out onto the floor to see what's there - although a couple of seed company websites have mysteriously opened up on my desktop due to people talking about fabulous crops they've grown!!! Happy New Year my lovely - hope to see you again this year! xx

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