Butternut Squash Orzotto

At the weekend I went to see Potted Potter, the stage show which condenses all seven Harry Potter books into 71 minutes.  The show has come to Hong Kong for a few days, and is quite a treat for anyone who still feels pangs of sadness that there will never be a new Harry-related book or film (unless JK Rowling falls on really hard times, which seems fairly unlikely).  It was a very funny show, with just two men playing all the parts between them and telling the story with clear affection for the original material.

It’s quite nice to take a little shortcut like that sometimes:  you can read all seven books, or you can see a 71 minute show.  Similarly, you can labour over a risotto, adding the stock a ladleful at a time, or you can stick this delicious orzotto on the hob and leave it to do its thing.  This comes from Nigella’s Christmas book, and I can see why she loves it in the festive season – it can be prepared ahead up to step 6 and largely left to its own devices.  And to be honest, I think it’s just as good as a regular risotto.  Tuck in, regardless of the season!

Butternut Squash Orzotto

Serves 4-5, from Nigella Christmas


1/2 butternut squash, unpeeled, chopped into 2.5cm cubes

2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp ground mace

1/2 onion, finely chopped

250g barley

65ml white wine

600ml vegetable stock

250g mascarpone

25g pine nuts, toasted

chopped fresh sage


1.  Preheat the oven to 220C.  Put the butternut squash in a roasting tin with half the oil and mace, toss well to coat everything.  Roast for 45 minutes until tender.

2.  Meanwhile, cook the onion over a gentle heat for about 10 minutes in the remaining oil.

3.  Add the barley and stir for about 2 minutes over medium heat.

4.  Turn the heat to high, pour in the wine and let it bubble down a little.

5.  Add the vegetable stock all in one go, cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes.

6.  Take half of the roasted squash and put it in a blender with half the mascarpone.  Blitz it, then stir into the cooked barley and season.  (Can be left for 1-3 days now.)

7.  Add the remaining mascarpone, the roasted squash cubes and the remaining mace.  Stir them in and heat the mixture gently.

8.  Stir in half the pine nuts, then serve scattered with the remaining nuts and the chopped sage.

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