D claims to have not been much into cooking before we met. He had three dishes in his repertoire with which to woo the ladies: bangers and mash with onion gravy, prawn curry (origin unknown) and mushroom risotto. Any more than these three dinners and you’d have to go back to the beginning and rotate through again. I sometimes wonder if this was some kind of girlfriend test: love me, be prepared to eat the same three meals for the rest of your life.
Six years after coming under my influence he is shaping up to be a pretty wonderful cook. And although his natural allegiance is to the school of “if in doubt add more butter / cream / oil / all of the above” he is very good about taking account of my points allowance and curtailing the saturated fat content.
The meal we had for tea was a case in point: it has some butter, oil and Parmesan cheese in it but not so much that it makes too large a dent in your daily allowance but enough that it is rich and luxurious and utterly gorgeous. This is his recipe which he has kindly allowed me to share as long as I give him all the credit – which I am happy to do as long as he promises to cook it for me again soon!
Half a large butternut squash, cut into wedges and deseeded
3 garlic cloves, crushed
Tbsp olive oil
8 sage leaves, shredded
2 tsps butter
Large onion, chopped
120g risotto rice
50ml white wine (optional - 1 pro point per person in total)
500ml chicken stock
40g extra low fat soft cheese
40g freshly grated Parmesan
20g pumpkin seeds (optional - 2 pro points per person in total)
Serves 2, 8.5 points per person, 14 pro points per person
Preheat the oven to 200C
In a large ovenproof tray toss the squash in the olive oil, garlic and half the sage leaves. Season well and then roast for 30-45 mins until soft and golden. Once the squash has cooled slightly, scrape the flesh away from the skin into a bowl and lightly mash – keep it reasonably chunky to provide some texture in the risotto.
Now heat the butter in a pan and soften the onion.
Add the rice and stir well to coat in the butter, then add the splash of wine (if using) and allow to bubble off.
Tip in the rest of the sage and season lightly – bear in mind that your stock may be quite salty so be careful. Now add the warm stock a ladleful at a time, giving a good stir at each addition, until the rice is soft but with a touch of bite in the middle of the grain – we found this took about 15 minutes. You may not need all of the stock.
Remove the risotto from the heat and stir through the mashed squash, two thirds of the grated Parmesan and the soft cheese. Cover and allow it to sit for a couple of minutes - this will make it even thicker and creamier so you may want to add a touch more stock before serving to thin it out a little.
Serve sprinkled with the remaining Parmesan and the pumpkin seeds.
Note: this was very rich and would probably feed three people with less enthusiastic appetites, especially if you had a nice, peppery side salad. I also have a feeling that some bacon lardons, chucked in at the beginning, would be lovely in this – but obviously this would up the points.