In case you were interested, my eye is still black, and my hair? Still a little too green for my liking. But I have come to accept these new features. I know they are not permanent, but I am nevertheless getting to used to them. Will I miss my goblin hair and epic shiner when they move on to greener pastures? No. Probably not. A normal face and normal hair would be rather splendid. When that will be, I have no idea. No pressure, bruising process. No pressure.
I’m currently housesitting while my mother dearest is away for the summer, swanning about in Antibes, France, while I sweat away in the increasingly humid desert I call home. Jealous, me? Nooooo. The upside to this situation, however, is not only the opportunity to hang out with her menagerie – a cat, Sabrina, and dog, Nelson, who are bizarrely the best of friends, but also the kitchen. I love my mum’s kitchen. I’ve probably told you this before, but honestly – it’s worth saying again. It’s got everything I could possibly need, including cupboards full of every herb and spice under the sun. Plus there was some leftover cheese sitting in the fridge, which I ever so kindly consumed. Don’t want her returning to a stinky cheese fridge. I’m a wonderful human being, what can I say.
Free reign of the kitchen means an excuse for dinner guests. This evening’s affair is with a chum from school, who has moved to Dubai relatively recently. I thought I’d keep to the theme, and cook my version of one of my all-time-favourite school dinners. As a boarding schooler, we actually had rather scrumptious grub on offer. Butternut squash risotto was served every other week on a Friday as the vegetarian option alongside good old fish & chips. I rather enjoy a battered cod and chunky chip combo, but after tasting the risotto by chance one week, I was sold. I would always rave about it to my mum and my grandparents, who live not too far away. So one weekend, when the grandparentals had come to take me out of school for the weekend, my Grandad and I decided to try and re-create the recipe. Best idea ever. It changes from time to time depending on what I feel like, so this will be the first time I have ever put the recipe in writing.
Today, I am using pancetta for extra flavour, but if you are vegetarian, like many of my family members, then just leave that bit out! I hope you fall in love with this as much as I have. It’s delicious. You’re welcome. This serves about 4 people.
1 small butternut squash
250g Arborio rice
1 to 1 1/2 litres of vegetable or chicken stock
100g parmesan, finely grated
White wine (optional)
Handful of almond flakes, toasted
Fresh baby spinach
1/ Peal the butternut squash, chop into even chunks, toss in a drizzle of olive oil, season, and roast in oven at 200°C for 30 – 40 mins.
2/ In a large saucepan, brown pancetta in a small amount of olive oil, adding onions once beginning to brown.
3/ Once onions have softened, stir in rice.
4/ Pour a bout 1/4 litre of stock into the mix, and allow the rice to absorb the liquid, stirring occasionally to avoid burning.
5/ Continue to add fluid until the rice is al dente. Feel free to substitute up to 1/4 litre of stock for white wine for extra flavour.
6/Chop two thirds of the roasted butternut squash into approximately 1cmx1cm cubes, and stir into the risotto along with two thirds of the parmesan cheese, plus seasoning.
7/ Dish risotto into bowls, top with chunks of roasted butternut squash, fresh baby spinach, asparagus, parmesan cheese and toasted almond flakes!