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Low waste Squash and Leek Risotto

Updated: Nov 19, 2020

Recipe by Clare Mcelhatton.

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This recipe uses squash/pumpkin skin, flesh and seeds and the fibrous leek tops to make a fragrant stock for a risotto. This recipe can be made vegan or with cheese. I have used a Queensland Blue (which strangely has bright yellow flesh) but any winter squash will work.

Serves 2-4

Stock Ingredients

The amounts here are only a guide- use what ever peelings or scraps you have available and use the spices to your preference.

  • Queensland Blue Squash roughly ¼ of a squash

  • 3 leeks

  • Herbs such as rosemary, thyme of sage

  • 10-12 Peppercorns

  • 3 Star Anise

  • 1 Cinnamon Stick

  • 1 clove

  • 1-2 Carrots whole or just peelings

  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed but not peeled

  • Optional extras: mushroom stalks, onion, celery parsnip

  • Oil

  • Salt


  1. Using a good knife, remove the skin from the squash. Don’t worry if there is still a lot of flesh on the skin, it can be rescued later*. Keep the flesh for the puree. Any seeds and ‘guts’ can be added to the stock

  2. Trim the dark green tops from the leeks. Keep the white parts for later

  3. Wash everything well

  4. In a large saucepan, heat a little olive or vegetable oil, add the vegetables bit by bit. Stir them and coat them in the oil. Keep cooking for around 5-10 until the leeks and become a brighter green and everything has softened a little.

  5. Add cold water until just above the vegetables

  6. Loosely cover with a lid and simmer (don’t boil) for 30 minutes

  7. Add the spices and herbs

  8. Cook for another 30 minutes

  9. Remove from the heat and strain through a clean tea towel or muslin cloth if you have it. Otherwise a sieve is fine. Keep the strained vegetables

  10. Return the stock liquid to the heat and simmer until reduced a little (about 10minutes)

  11. *When the strained vegetables have cooled, use a spoon to scrape any extra squash flesh from the skin- it should come off quite easily. Add this to the puree.

  12. Taste the stock, it should be sweet and fragrant from the spices. Add salt to taste

Squash Puree

  1. Cut the squash flesh into large chunks and cover with water in a saucepan.

  2. Cook on a medium heat until it is very…squashy

  3. Blend the puree with a stick blender, or use a fork/rolling pin/potato masher to get the squash smooth- it will resemble mango puree

  4. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste


  • 1 medium onion or 2 leeks- white part only (around 120g). Finely diced or in thinly sliced if using leeks

  • 2 cloves of garlic. Peeled and crushed

  • 180g arborio rice or barley

  • Sage leaves- optional

  • 1 small glass of white wine or ½ lemon

  • Olive oil and/or butter or vegan alternative (‘Vegan Block’ is good)

  • Nutritional Yeast or Parmesan (around 1 tbsp)

  • Salt

  • Black pepper


  • Put the saucepan of stock onto a low heat on one hob to keep warm

  • In another pan, add olive or vegetable oil and warm, add the diced onion/leeks and garlic cloves and sage if using. Add a pinch of salt. Cook on a medium heat, stirring frequently. Cook the onion until it is translucent and soft

  • Add the rice or barley and stir to coat in the onion and oil .

  • If using, pour in the white wine and cook until the rice has absorbed all the liquid.

  • Add a ladle of stock to the rice. Keep stirring until the rice has absorbed the liquid.

  • Keep adding the stock bit by bit and stirring the rice to release its starch

  • Once all the stock has been used OR when the rice has started to soften, add a ladle full of puree

  • Keep adding the puree and stirring the rice until it has mostly cooked but retains a bite (al dente). The amounts will depend of the quantity of stock & how much moisture was in the puree.

  • Add more water or stock to get the consistency of rice pudding- it should be creamy and not too dry. The puree will give it a smooth, silky texture.

  • Taste the risotto. To add more flavour (how much will depend on the stock used) use salt, nutritional yeast or parmesan. Lemon juice cuts through the sweetness of the squash and lots of black pepper will complement it.

  • Carefully remove the garlic and herbs and discard

  • For even more richness stir through a knob of butter (or vegan alternative) or a glug of good olive oil.

  • Serve immediately. Add any herbs or edible flowers you may have. I used coriander flowers for freshness and Nasturtium leaves and flowers for their mustardy/peppery taste.

Squash Seeds

If the seeds have been boiled with the stock, once they have cooled slightly, they can be eaten. The outer layer is usually tough, but the insides are creamy and delicious. Fiddly but worth it! Alternatively, boil the seeds in salt water for 15 minutes and roast in a medium oven (180°C) for 20mins with salt and oil. Allow to cool. The outer shell will be easier to open. Still fiddly but the taste is worth it.

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