This week's 'little surprise' in the veg box was a Patty-Pan Squash. A bit mysterious, not because I didn't know what it was, but because I'd never cooked one before and wasn't really sure what I was going to do with it. Despite looking a bit like a small yellow pumpkin, the skin is thin and the flesh and seeds are delicate, rather like the inside of a courgette. After some pondering, I decided that risotto was the way to go. I like cooking risotto, there's something quite mindless and therapeutic about it, and boy, do I need mindless and therapeutic at the moment!
With some Parma ham from one of Hubby's bargain hunting missions and some herbs from the garden, it was really rather good. I prefer to use the larger-grained carnaroli risotto rice. Put the stock in a saucepan and keep it hot, but not boiling, at the back of the stove while you cook. My homemade stock is salt-free, so James can eat it, but if you use a prepared stock it won't be suitable for babies.
Risotto with Prosciutto and Patty-Pan Squash
25g butter and a drizzle of olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 patty-pan squash, diced
200g risotto rice
splash of vermouth
fresh rosemary, finely chopped
fresh thyme, finely chopped
800ml hot chicken stock
80g prosciutto, cut into ragged strips
20g fresh parmesan, grated
Melt 15g of butter with a drizzle of olive oil in a deep, heavy frying pan. Soften the onion, then add the diced squash and cook for a moment or two. Tip in the rice, stirring to coat all the grains with the fat. Pour in the vermouth and cook for a minute or so to evaporate the alcohol, before adding the chopped herbs to the pan. Then, still stirring all then time, add a ladleful of chicken stock at a time and allow it to be absorbed by the rice each time before adding the next. After you've put in most of the stock, drop in the bits of prosciutto and continue cooking in the same way.
When the rice is cooked through (test as you go, scooping out a grain of rice with a fork), add the parmesan and the last 10g of butter, cut into pieces. Give it all a good stir, then take the pan off the heat, cover it and leave it for a couple of minutes while you finish off any last minute bits.
We had a salad of Little Gem lettuce to go with the risotto, I think the slightly bitter flavour and the crisp texture make this particular leaf perfect with the starchy rice.