Nevertheless, this is a handy and healthy one-pot dish that also reheats well the next day.
Prep: 15 mins
High: 3–4 hours, plus 35 mins
1 small–medium butternut squash (about 750g)
1 medium onion
1 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove
150g Arborio (risotto) rice
50ml Marsala, Madeira or extra vegetable stock
650ml hot vegetable stock (made with 1 vegetable stock cube)
100g young spinach leaves
50g parmesan cheese or grana padano cheese
flaked sea salt, ground black pepper
1. Peel the squash with a good vegetable peeler then cut it in half lengthways, scoop out the seeds and cut it into roughly 3cm chunks.
2. Peel and finely chop the onion and put the squash and onion into the slow cooker.
3. Add the oil, salt to season and a good grind of black pepper and toss well together.
4. Cover with the lid and cook on high for 3–4 hours, or until the squash is tender and the onion is nicely browned.
5. Peel and crush the garlic, remove the slow cooker lid and stir the garlic, rice, Marsala or Madeira (if using) into the vegetables.
6. Pour over the stock and stir well, making sure the rice is fully submerged in the stock, then cover again and cook for a further 30–40 minutes, or until the rice is tender.
7. Remove the lid, stir in the spinach leaves, a handful at a time, then grate the parmesan or grana padano and add to the risotto.
8. Stir well then cover with the lid and cook for a further 2–3 minutes or until the spinach is soft.
Tip: Cool any leftovers quickly and then store in a covered dish in the fridge for up to two days. Reheat in the microwave or a large saucepan, with an extra splash of water, stirring until piping hot throughout.