Embrace the coming winter with this warming risotto recipe. Best served sitting on the sofa with friends and family.

Squash, spinach and taleggio cheese risotto

Taleggio cheese originates from Italy and has a thin crust and semi-soft consistency. Despite it’s pungent smell it is relatively mild in taste. If you’re unable to get your hands on some you can easily substitue it for some fontina, which has similar melting qualities, or goats cheese, although this will lack taleggio’s tangy flavour.

Serves four

Ingredients:

1 large butternut squash

1 large white onion, finely sliced

300 grams risotto rice

1 generous glass white wine

500ml chicken stock

260 grams raw spinach

200 grams taleggio cheese, cut into thin slices

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees (gas mark 4).

Peel, de-seed and cut the butternut squash in 1cm cubes. Toss in a glug of olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in the oven until the vegetable chars slightly at the edges and is soft.

In a flat bottomed, wide pan melt a knob of butter and sweat the onion, over a low to medium heat, until it is soft but not coloured.

As the onion is cooking heat up the chicken stock in a separate saucepan. Alternatively dissolve a stock cube in 450ml of boiling water and leave to one side.

Add the risotto rice to the soft onions and stir, ensuring every grain has been coated in butter. Keep stiring until the outer shells of the rice begins to turn translucent; add in more butter if necessary.

Pour in the white wine, stir to combine and let it slowly bubble until the liquid has almost entirely evaporated.

Gradually add the hot stock to your rice mixture, one ladleful at a time. Wait until each liquid addition has been absorbed by the rice, stirring continuously. For al dente risotto the process will take around 20 minutes or, if you prefer the grains to be soft all the way through, continue adding liquid and stirring for a further five minutes.

Before adding in the remaining ingredients ensure that the rice has a small amount of liquid left to absorb, to stop it drying out. Remove from the heat and add in the spinach leaves, gently folding them in. Repeat with the squash. Finally, lay your slices of taleggio on the top and cover the pan with a lid. Leave to sit for 5-10 minutes and allow the heat from the pan to wilt the spinach and melt the cheese.

Season to taste and serve.

Next week: spiced apple roses