Wintery, fragrant, mandarin risotto

Mandarins are much loved from chefs and bakers around the world, for their wonderful essential oil. Following Greek chef’s Evie Voutsina tip -this time of the year that they are at their best- you can grate their skin, store it in the fridge wrapped in cling film and use it throughout the year in various cakes, sauces, breads etc. This risotto is the perfect first course during winter time; it can also work as a side dish for a simple roast chicken and sautéed spinach or as a main dish with a green salad. Let us know how you found this tangy, fruity, colourful, silky dish.

Serves 4-6 persons

Preparation: 25’ Cooking: 15’ approximately

Ingredients

300 g butternut squash (without the skin)

1 almost ripe quince

1 big red onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 glass of white wine

½ cup evoo 22°C

80g almonds toasted and chopped

4 table spoons of black Corinth raisins

skin from½ mandarin (ideally organic) and a bit more for decoration (if desired)

2 table spoons of parsley finely chopped

sea-salt and freshly ground pepper

400g/ 2 tea cups of (risotto) Carolina rice or Arborio

5 ½ cups of boiled water

Cut the squash as well as the quince in small cubes. With a spoon grate the inside of the mandarin skin; cut the skin in strips and reserve them in a small bowl. In a heavy skillet or large pan, heat the olive oil over moderately high heat and sauté the onion a few minutes until softened transparent. Afterwards, put in the rice, the butternut squash and the quince along with the garlic and stir for 2-3 minutes. All the rice grains should be well coated with olive oil and opaque. Season the mix with salt and pepper and add the white wine stirring constantly until it is completely absorbed. Put in the raisins as well as the clementine skin stripes.

At this point, begin pouring in the water, about½ cup at a time, stirring and letting each addition absorb before adding more. As the rice begins to swell and after about half of the water has been added, taste for doneness. The rice should be al dente. Continue adding water as necessary. Depending on the desired texture you may mix it at a slow or quick pace. When it’s almost ready, check the seasoning and as a final touch add the parsley and the almonds. Stir and remove it from the fire. Serve immediately, garnishing each plate with clementine sections.

Tip: You could alternatively roast the butternut squash as well as the quince first -with their skins- and when they’re ready you only need to flesh them out and add them to the risotto. It might seem like an extra step in the cooking process, but actually makes it easier.

* Inspired by Voutsina E. (2009, January), Mandarin: fragrant and noble, Gastronomos, 87.

By Lida Papamatthaiaki

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