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Butternut Squash and Prawn Risotto

Butternut Squash and Prawn Risotto.

I used to make risotto all the time. Back in the day, before the necessity to measure ingredients and share with your good self, I would simply chuck whatever I had in the fridge into a pan with rice and bubble it up with a few flavours. When friends declared risotto a tricky dish to make, I’d try to explain how easy it was to rustle up a great dish.

I used to make risotto all the time. Back in the day, before the necessity to measure ingredients and share with your good self, I would simply chuck whatever I had in the fridge into a pan with rice and bubble it up with a few flavours. When friends declared risotto a tricky dish to make, I’d try to explain how easy it was to rustle up a great dish.

Admittedly, results were variable with regards to the success of flavours. Whilst using up leftovers or just cooking fresh food without much thought is easy and nourishing, it definitely pays to give a little consideration to herbs, oils, primary/secondary ingredients, before creating a meal.

Last week I suddenly missed risotto! Having found myself eating much less rice these days (for no particular reason) I was craving a creamy bowl of organic Arborio rice. See my article on rice to help you decide which is safest to eat.

Have you ever thought how you would replace stock cubes?

I’ve given up using stock cubes, having failed to find even an organic produced commercial brand that doesn’t include an ingredient I exclude from my recipes. No biggie, to be honest. It’s perfectly possible to make your own stock cubes; I just haven’t bothered to put the time in; but it did get me thinking what I could use as a quick alternative, when a stock cube is the norm.

With that in mind, I was standing by the hob, rice and primary ingredients at the ready, wondering how I would create a tasty ‘stock’ in which to cook the rice for this particular risotto.

Hmmmm. Olives?

Nice choice. 😉

Well, ‘could’ be. There’s a plus and negative to follow …!

Without much forethought (oops – I fell off the ‘planning train’ again – old habits die hard!) I poured some water into my Optimum jug, and grabbed a jar of black olives from the fridge.

Kalamati pitted olives (a quick choice) hadn’t been in stock locally and to be fair, whilst they’re pre-prepped, the pitted variety doesn’t tend to be organic. A jar of wrinkly black olives looked very inviting. Do you agree that there’s nothing quite like a rich, dark olive? 😉

Soft as soft things, they melted away from the stone with a single push (good jobbb!) and moments later I had sufficient ready to add to the blender.

Ginger went in next. In retrospect, not sure what it added, but the overall resulting flavour was good enough and it probably added a cheeky little under-layer/depth, even if it wasn’t obvious to the palate.

One quick blend later and a thick, black sauce awaited the pan. Until I’d poured in half of it and watched the rice turn black, it hadn’t registered how dense this meal could turn out!

I’ve noticed that with the absence of a clear stock cube style water (having experimented with other sauce mixes before) the rice takes a fair bit longer to cook. 30-45 mins for some risottos becomes an hour this-styley. I haven’t read up on the science of this, but it appears to me that the presence of more ‘food’ in the water seems to inhibit the ability of rice to absorb the water as quickly. No matter. It’s simply a case of keeping an eye on the risotto so you catch it when it’s ‘just cooked’ ie before the rice starts to become mushy.

On first taste, the risotto tasted decidedly bitter. Time to set to work adding further layers! Dates didn’t make a significant difference and I wasn’t keen to use too many (sugar content) so I reached for another trusted ingredient that, to be fair, I wasn’t sure would work, but was a last ditch attempt to rescue the flavour before I admitted defeat. Ta daaaa! It worked. Amazing.

Risotto in two bowls winged their way to a neighbour’s house, where I quizzed for a detailed breakdown of how she and her friend felt about this unusual dish. 9 1/2 out of 10. Gosh. Buoyed by this unexpected response, I hot-footed it to another family, packed with children of all ages. They’re discerning and have been trained by yours truly to offer only brutally honest assessments of every morsel they taste for me/you!

No marks less than 8, even from the youngest teen lad.

I’ve made this only once, so please let me know if you notice any adjustments required. Being super comfortable with risotto though, I’m confident enough to share this now and hope that you enjoy this healthy option, without stock cubes containing colour, preservatives, gluten, soy etc.

I’ve noted below the ingredients I was able to buy organically. As always, it’s great to be able to buy it, but just do what you can to suit your budget. See the Clean Fifteen, Dirty Dozen list here, to help you choose which fruit/veg are best to buy organically.

Butternut Squash and Prawn Risotto

Gather Your Goodies

Serves 2

For the Risotto

  • 500g Butternut Squash (weighed without skin)
  • 180g Uncooked Prawns
  • 140g Organic Arborio Rice
  • 50g Pecans
  • 100g Peas
  • 3 Tablespoons Dried Sage
  • 3 Tablespoons Organic Coconut Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Organic Avocado Oil

For the Sauce

  • Part 1

  • 3 Cups Water
  • 100g Organic Black Olives (pitted)
  • 1 Tablespoon Ginger
  • Part 2

  • 1 Cup Water
  • 4 Organic Dates

It’s Action Time!

  • Set the oven to 160 degrees Fan oven (350 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Chop the butternut squash into cubes, coat with the dried sage and cook in the avocado oil for 30-40 minutes (depending on size you’ve chopped the squash) or until cooked
  • Add 1 Tablespoon coconut oil to a large pan/wok
  • Add all the rice and cook on a low heat until lightly browned in places
  • Blend the water, olives and ginger in your blender jug
  • Pour 1/2 the sauce into the pan and allow the rice to slowly absorb the mixture
  • As the mixture runs low, add more, until you’ve used it all
  • When you’re done with the olive sauce, blend 4 dates with 1 cup of water
  • Add this to the risotto and again, keep on a low heat and allow rice to absorb the mixture
  • Once the liquid has all been added, add the cooked butternut squash, peas (straight from the freezer, in my case – it’s the one veg I keep frozen) prawns and pecans (crumbled in with your fingers)
  • Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of coconut oil to the pan and stir in thoroughly
  • Place the lid on the pan, cook for 2 minutes and serve

Do you love risotto?!

Let me know what you think of this one!

See you soon,

Pecan Butter

 

 

About the Author Sarah Jackson

I love to experiment with food, write, read, walk by the river, watch vintage TV dramas, good documentaries and comedy.

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