At the beginning of my unemployment I vowed that I would spent more time cooking, baking and learning how to food style. I was knocked back a bit when my camera was stolen (still feeling the loss!) but a few weeks later I pushed on and after seeing it on the Great Food Race AND Masterchef I pushed on and decided to make an old favourite – pumpkin risotto.
Many years ago when I was 16 I was a staunch vegetarian. Much to my parents dismay I pursued it with gusto and had PETA stickers all over my school books. This was also a very good time for me to pick up some excellent culinary skills. Coming from a meat and 3 veg kinda household I knew I would have to expand my knowledge because vege sausages and vegetables became very boring very quickly!
Risottos were new to me and something that became a quick staple in my diet. They’re fairly quick, delicious and require very small amounts of prep. It definitely is a labour of love but after your first forkful you will not regret it one bit. There are many variations but this is similar to the Jaime Oliver one from memory.
Prepping everything beforehand is definitely the way to go as you need to keep a close eye on it to prevent it from burning. I also refrain from putting extra salt in as the stock, butter and Parmesan hold enough to season it. Ironically, I prefer to use chicken stock for this.
1/4 butternut pumpkin cubed
3 tbslp olive oil
2 tsp dried mixed herbs
1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves of fresh garlic finely chopped
1 carrot finely diced
2 stems of celery finely diced
1 c arborio rice
1/4 c Parmesan cheese
1 knob of butter
Pre heat your oven to fan bake and about 200 degrees. Mix your chopped pumpkin and seasonings until your pumpkin is covered. Place in the oven and check every ten minutes or until you can start smelling the pumpkin. Once this is cooked, put your stock on the heat and once is starts boiling keep it at a low heat.
Meanwhile prep your onion, garlic, carrot and celery. Heat oil in the pan and add your veges. Once they start softening, add your rice and make sure it is coated in oil. Sauté for about 2-3 minutes. Slowly start adding in the stock ladle by ladle and keep stirring until the stock is slowly absorbed. Repeat this until your risotto reaches a lava consistency (Masterchef NZ fans will remember this as advice Chef Simon Gault gave to the contestants during the challenge) Stir through your quarter cup or Parmesan cheese and knob of butter until melted. Leaving this to set a little bit improves it’s flavour and is the reason why you do not need to add cream. Season to taste and enjoy!