sausage, butternut squash and spinach risotto

having had angela hartnett's orecchiette with sausage, fennel and flat-leaf parsley for supper and only used up half a pack of sausages, i needed a plan for the remaining two. throw some spinach that was on its last legs and half a butternut squash into the equation and i had a risotto in the making.

normally i would roast my butternut squash while making the risotto and then stir it in at the end. this time i decided to experiment with adding uncooked squash to the risotto pan and cooking it with the rice. this actually worked surprisingly well and as well as being healthier as the oil that i'd normally use for roasting the squash was not required, it also gave the dish a fresher flavour.

this dish is my contribution to the gourds waiter, there's something in my... event which jeanne, the cooksister, is hosting this month.

sausage, butternut squash and spinach risotto (serves 2)

1 tablespoon olive oil

2-3 sausages, cut into bite size pieces

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

150-175g risotto rice

75ml white wine

½ butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1cm pieces

600ml hot vegetable stock (i make mine with marigold bouillon powder)

3-4 handfuls baby spinach

50g grated parmesan

juice of half a lemon

freshly grated black pepper

heat the oil and cook the sausage over quite a high heat - you want to cook the meat through but also get a bit of colour on the edges of the sausage pieces. reduce the heat, add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion has softened. add the rice and mix well. turn the heat up, add the white wine and stir while it bubbles away. add the butternut squash.

add the vegetable stock a ladle at a time, stirring constantly and adding the next ladle when the rice absorbs the liquid. when you have used most of the stock, test the rice and squash to see if they are cooked - you may need slightly more/less liquid. when it is almost ready add the spinach, push it down into the rice, cover and leave for a few minutes until the spinach wilts. add the parmesan, lemon juice and black pepper, cover and leave to rest for a few minutes before serving.