Brixton market plus an Autumn squash, goat's cheese & rosemary risotto

Friday 28 October 2011

I love Brixton market on a Sunday... fresh fruit and vegetables (at a fraction of the cost of Borough); cheese stalls, organic and biodynamic produce and free range beef, poultry and lamb. It's just down the road from my flat but somewhere I've only recently started frequenting for my weekly shop.

Brixton has a fantastic mix of cultures and is (I think) one of the most diverse and visually stimulating areas in London... The clash of 'local country farmer's market meets Electric Avenue' is fantastic and something you really don't see anywhere else. The regeneration of Brixton Village also means that this community in South West London is really picking up the game when it comes to culinary achievements (restaurant reviews from Brixton Village coming soon!).

Colourful tropical fish for sale on Electric Avenue 

Romanesco broccoli... for 60p!!

Ornamental cabbage flowers

A lovely bunch!
Right, back to the point of my market visit... squash. It's October which means that squash, pumpkins and other gourds are in season.

The squash family is so varied - the colours, shapes, patterns, sizes and textures are all so different, which makes a shopping trip for squash so exciting. 

Brixton market has four stall holders that offer different varieties of squash for sale - two organic, two not.  I chose three of the small, organic, biodynamic squash... perfect for roasting. These beauties formed the basis of a roasted squash risotto with rosemary and goat's cheese (full recipe follows below). 

Serves 6:
  • 2 - 3 small squash
  • 500g risotto rice (I generally use Arborio)
  • 3pts vegetable stock
  • 100g grated Parmesan cheese
  • small log of soft goats cheese
  • a few sprigs of rosemary
  • 4 garlic cloves 
  • a handful of rocket
  • a 175ml glass of white wine (anything you have lying around in the fridge)
  • 50g butter and a splash of olive oil (to prevent the butter from burning)
  • 1 x red onion, finely diced  
First, peel and chop the squash and place in a large oven proof dish or baking tray. Add the three cloves of garlic (don't peel these, you want to roast and soften them) and the sprigs of rosemary and then sprinkle with olive oil. Roast in a hot oven (about 200C) for 30 - 40 minutes, until the squash is cooked through. Don't worry about the squash burning slightly on top - it adds flavour! 

While the squash is roasting, melt the butter in a large saucepan, add the oil and onion and saute on  low heat for about 5 minutes... you don't want to colour the onion, just soften it. Once the onion has turned translucent, add the remaining clove of garlic, crushed and cook for a further 2 - 3 minutes.

Add the rice and stir to ensure all grains are coated in butter - they should start to turn slightly translucent round the edges. Add the wine and stir until all has been absorbed.

To stir or not to stir... that is the question
I think the secret of a good risotto is lots of elbow grease... keep stirring it (or get a strong man to keep stirring it if your arms get tired). Add the vegetable stock little by little... once it's absorbed, add a bit more and stir vigorously again. You want to get a creamy consistency and through lots of stirring you start to release the starch, which is what gives the risotto such a creamy consistency.

There are some schools of thought that say you don't need to stir the risotto until right at the end - when you give it a good beating, but I think there's something satisfying about having a bubbling pot of risotto on the go (and a glass of wine in your other hand to ease your muscles).

Right, back to the recipe...

Once the stock is absorbed (should take about 25 mins), stir in the Parmesan and most of the roasted squash, crushing the roasted garlic up (sans skin) with the back of your spoon as you go. 

To serve, put the squash risotto on a plate, add some pieces of roasted squash to the top, along with some crumbled goats cheese and a handful of rocket. Add freshly ground black pepper and drizzle with a balsamic reduction as per the above picture if you're feeling flashy.


Greedy Diva said...

Beautiful pics! I took some of the pumpkins at the market at San Sebastian recently - so gorgeous.

Jeanne said...

Aaaaaah - GEM SQUASH!! I need to get down to Brixton Market to get my fix, evidently!! Love the risotto - you can't go wrong with a squash risotto :)

Unknown said...

Greedy Diva - thanks! So great having a beautiful subject matter :)

Jeanne - yes, I love Brixton market, lots of varied veg and really cheap too!

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