Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Butternut Squash and Bacon - pasta and risotto : two for one!

I have been home alone for a couple of days this week so had an opportunity to re-visit this old favourite! 

It came about when I was single and used to find that a butternut squash, even a small one, was really too much for one person.  I absolutely hate waste so I used to cook the whole thing, with enough bacon for two people and either cook one and a half serves of pasta, with the extra reserved to make a frittata the next day, or I would just set aside half of the butternut and bacon mix to add to a risotto. 

These are my ‘recipes’, such as they are!  As they are all one serves, if you are cooking for two people then you’ll need two butternut squashes, or a large one.  Or, you could of course use pumpkin.

Peel and cut a butternut squash into cubes and add to a frying pan with a little garlic olive oil.

Chop up four or five rashers of bacon into chunks and add to the pan.  Snip/chop some fresh sage leaves and add.  

I sometimes add a little crushed dried chilli too.

Cook the whole lot gently until everything is cooked and browned nicely.

At the same time as this is cooking, boil a pan of pasta according to packet directions.  I quite like chilli penne with this.

Now depending on what you want to do with the other half of the butternut and bacon mix proceed as follows :

To set aside for a frittata – drain the pasta and add to the frying pan, stirring so that the pasta picks up the sticky bits from the pan.  Decant half to your dish and the other half to a bowl to set aside for the next day.  Add a good grating of parmesan to both bowls.

To set aside for the risotto, just remove half of the bacon and butternut mixture to a bowl and then add the pasta to the pan. 

To make the frittata : break up the pasta and butternut mix with a wooden spoon, beat two eggs, season and add to the bowl with the pasta and mix so that everything is well combined.  Melt a little butter in a frying pan and add the eggy pasta mix, grating a little fresh parmesan over the top.  Set the eggs on the hob, swirling the pan around from time to time and then finish off cooking under the grill.

To make the risotto, for one person I do as follows :

Finely chop a small shallot, half a clove of garlic and a stick of celery and soften in a little butter or olive oil.  Add 1/3 cup of risotto rice and stir around to coat with what little oil there is left in the pan, add 2/3 cup of vegetable or chicken stock and stir in.  Leave to simmer on a low heat, stirring from time to time as it cooks.  Cooking time will vary depending on the type of rice you are using, but generally takes somewhere between 15 to 20 minutes.  Keep the kettle boiled and handy and if you need to, if the risotto seems to dry before the rice has cooked, you can add more boiling water.  Add the bacon and butternut mixture 5 minutes before  the end of the cooking time.  Then add a generous grating of fresh parmesan cheese.

I know that the recipe for the risotto is an aberration to Italians, both in the quantity of butter and the all-in-one method!  But I’m not Italian, I can’t bring myself to use as much butter as you should to make a true risotto, and I like the convenience of doing the all-in-one as opposed to the pan of simmering stock being added a ladleful at a time!

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