October is the month that conjures up images of Hallowe’en pumpkins, but their cousin, butternut squash, is actually far tastier – especially when roasted.

A classic risotto is also a fabulous way to showcase Hampshire’s artisan blue cheese and old-fashioned bacon – the kind that doesn’t shrink to half its size when you cook it!

If you want to make the dish vegetarian, omit the bacon and add the seeds from the squash to the roasting tin half way through cooking the butternut.

These make a lovely alternative crunchy topping sprinkled over the finished dish. Loosehanger and Lyburn cheeses are available from Hampshire farmers’ markets, as is delicious free-range bacon. hampshirefare.co.uk has a list of producers and farm shops.

Serves 4

  • ½ butternut squash, peeled
  • 100g butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 300g risotto rice
  • ½ glass white wine
  • 1 litre good vegetable stock, kept just below boiling point on the hob
  • 75g Lyburn’s Old Winchester
  • 150g Loosehanger’s Old Sarum, crumbled
  • 8 rashers of smoked streaky bacon
  • A handful of basil leaves, torn
  • Method
  • Preheat oven to 190C/GM5
  • Cut the squash into small cubes and put in a roasting tin with a good sprinkling of sea salt, some freshly ground black pepper and a generous drizzle of olive or rapeseed oil. Roast for 30-45mins until soft and caramelised at the edges.
  • Meanwhile, melt half the butter in a saucepan with a good glug of oil and fry the onion over a medium heat until translucent. Add the garlic and fry for a minute more, then add the rice and stir until each grain is nicely coated. Pour in the wine and bubble, until almost evaporated. Add a ladleful of the hot stock to the rice and cook over a low heat, stirring until most of the liquid has been absorbed and when you draw the spoon along the bottom of the pan a clear trench forms. Repeat with the next ladleful and continue until all the stock has been used. By this time the risotto should be thick and creamy, but try a bit of the rice and if it’s still a bit hard, continue by adding a ladle of water and cooking as before.
  • Take off the heat and stir in the roasted squash pieces, the rest of the butter, the grated cheese and a good grind of black pepper. It’s well worth using top quality butter as the flavour really comes through – I always pick up a pack of Lyburn’s butter when I buy my cheese at the farmers’ market. Cover and leave to stand for five or ten minutes – this will make the texture even more melting and creamy. In the meantime, fry the bacon over a high heat until crisp on both sides, then drain on kitchen paper. Uncover the risotto, add the crumbled Old Sarum with the basil and give a final stir before spooning into hot dishes and topping with the crispy bacon.