Creamy butternut squash and earthy, luscious mushrooms are combined to create a robust side dish or main vegetarian meal.

Culinary couple Brit Hart (Bricks Wine Co., Vin Room, J. Webb Wine Merchant) and Jamie Harling (Harling Food Co., Rouge, Deane House) are in the kitchen this month cooking up this warm and romantic masterclass with a wine pairing for those who might want to cook together this Valentine’s Day.

Wine Pairing by Brit Hart

I say this so often but food and wine pairings are like any good relationship. When done well, they can truly surpass the sum of their parts.

One of my favourite red varietals is Nebbiolo and it’s a beautiful pairing with this earthy, squash and mushroom risotto. The tart cherry and dried floral notes help to bring out the flavours of the dish while the stinging acidity of Nebbiolo cuts through the richness, cleansing the palate and leaving you wanting another bite. A favourite bottle around our house is Alma Giribaldi Nebbiolo.

Winter Squash and Oyster Mushroom Risotto with Squash Puree

Servings 2



  • 1/2 medium butternut squash
  • 4 tbsp neutral oil, 60 ml
  • 1 tbsp malabar spice mix or garam masala, 15 ml
  • 16 oz oyster mushrooms, 454 g
  • 6 cups chicken stock, 1.5 L
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, 30 ml
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2/3 cup carnaroli rice, 150 g
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock, 125 ml
  • 1/2 cup white wine, 125 ml
  • 1 cup freshly grated grana padano, 250 ml
  • 1/2 cup raw, shelled pumpkin seeds, 125 ml
  • thyme
  • salt

Squash Puree

  • 1/2 medium squash (other half)
  • 1/2 cup white wine, 125 ml
  • 2 tbsp butter, 60 ml
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup, 45 ml
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar, 30 ml
  • water to cover
  • salt to taste



  • Preheat oven to 220 C (425 F).
  • Peel the squash and remove the seeds, cut into 1 cm (1/4 inch) squares, toss with 30 ml (2 Tbsp) salt and Malabar spice mix.
  • Place on parchment-lined tray and place in oven until tender, approximately 20 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and divide the squash in half, reserving half for risotto.
  • Place squash in a medium-sized pot and heat pot over medium heat. Add half of white wine and reduce until it's almost dry. Add water to cover and cook another 5 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and blend with an immersion or stand blender. Slowly add butter to emulsify. Season with red wine vinegar and maple syrup.


  • Preheat pan over medium heat, add 30 ml (1 Tbsp) oil and 30 ml (1 Tbsp) butter. Once melted, add mushrooms and season with salt. Cook until browned and softened, set aside.

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

  • Preheat pan over medium heat. Toast 125 ml (½ cup) of seeds until golden.


  • Meanwhile slowly heat chicken stock in a pot. Preheat a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, add 30 ml (1 Tbsp) oil.
  • Add shallots and cook until translucent. Add carnaroli rice and toast, ensure rice is evenly coated in oil. Add thyme. Season with salt.
  • Deglaze with remaining white wine and reduce until almost dry.
  • Add chicken stock in small amounts, stirring constantly, adding more as the stock is absorbed. Continue to add stock and stir until rice is al dente, approximately 20 minutes. You may have stock left over.
  • Remove from heat and stir in cubes of roasted squash, sautéed mushrooms, butter and cheese. Season with salt and red wine vinegar and taste.
  • Plate over squash purée. Top with freshly-grated grana padano cheese and toasted pumpkin seeds.