Rugby Recipes: Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto with Maple Syrup Almonds

In the second of our rugby recipe instalments, Kate Percy brings us another hunger-making dish to provide energy for rugby or training.

This delicious dish is high in slow-release carbohydrate, great to eat the night before a match or a hard training session and fantastic for endurance. Butternut squash is one of those vegetables that has an amazing array of nutrients – it is an excellent source of the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory beta-carotene (vitamin A), it contains good amounts of vitamin C, potassium and fibre, plus folic acid, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B1, copper, niacin … the list is endless.

Add the almonds, parmesan and the risotto rice to this and you have a very tasty and nutritious low-G.I. meal. If you want to make the dish a bit more meaty, then add some bacon chunks to it at step 4, or serve the risotto as an accompaniment to some lamb chops.

Ingredients: Serves 4
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed and cut into 2cm cubes
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 knobs of butter
1 onion, peeled and finely sliced
1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
350g risotto rice – vialone nano or arborio
225ml dry white wine
1¼–1½ litres hot vegetable or chicken stock
small handful of flaked almonds
1 tbsp maple syrup, diluted with a few drops of water
1 tsp saffron strands (optional)
75g freshly grated parmesan


1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6.

2. Put the squash on a baking sheet and toss it with 1 tbsp olive oil, then sprinkle a tsp of salt and some freshly ground pepper over the top. Roast in the oven for about 25 minutes until the squash is tender and golden. Stir it once or twice while it is roasting.

3. Heat up the stock in a saucepan so that it is ready to ladle onto the rice.

4. Melt the butter and remaining olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed pan and gently sauté the onion until it becomes translucent. Add the garlic and gently sauté for a couple of minutes, without allowing it to brown.

5. Add the rice and stir until the grains become translucent and glossy.

6. Add the wine and cook for a couple of minutes until completely absorbed. If you are using saffron, stir it in now and then add the hot stock, a ladle at a time, otherwise just start with the stock. You need to make sure that each ladleful of stock is absorbed by the rice before you add the next one. This should take about 18–20 minutes. You may need more or less stock according to the type of rice and the rate of absorption.

7. Meanwhile mix the almonds with the maple syrup and water and pop them in the oven for about 5 minutes until golden.

8. The rice is cooked when it is slightly al dente and looks nice and creamy. Taste it to see if you need more salt (it depends how salty your stock is as to how much you need), turn off the heat, stir in the parmesan and the butternut squash and a generous knob of butter. Let the mixture stand for a couple of minutes.

9. Serve with the almonds and some fresh parmesan shavings.

10. This goes really well with a crisp salad (frisée or gem) with crispy bacon/pancetta pieces, tossed in a light balsamic dressing.

Nutrition per serving
Energy (kcal) 689
Protein (g) 18
Carbohydrate (g) 104
– Of which sugars (g) 12
Fat (g) 22
– Of which saturates (g) 8
Salt (g) 1.7
Fibre (g) 4

About Kate Percy:
As an experienced marathon runner and cook, Kate is passionate about the link between healthy eating and better athletic performance. Her work has been published in specialist sports magazines, the national press and on sports websites and her new book, Go Faster Food, offers advice on how to to eat for optimal training, endurance and recovery and puts nutritional theory into good practice with hundreds of delicious, imaginative and energy-boosting recipes. Go Faster Food, published by Vermilion, is available from Amazon and on Kate’s website

2 thoughts on “Rugby Recipes: Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto with Maple Syrup Almonds

  1. sounds lovely! and makes me feel +vely guilty about the rib-eye i had at lunchtime…

    “another hunger-making dish”? surely you mean another hunger-solving, hunger-sating, or even hunger-conquering dish?!

  2. ß-Carotene is a strongly-colored red-orange pigment abundant in plants and fruits. It is an organic compound and chemically is classified as a hydrocarbon and specifically as a terpenoid (isoprenoid), reflecting its derivation from isoprene units. ß-Carotene is biosynthesized from geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate..;..`

    Be well

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