With the advent of the colder winter months i feel a few pumpkin recipes coming on. As i have mentioned earlier, i love pumpkins, and there is something intensely satisfying about a hearty pumpkin dish. The cheerful orange of the pumpkin adds some brightness to a dreary winter day,
and pumpkins are a great source of dietary fibre, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. What's not to like?
Unlike many pumpkin based risotto recipes, this one does not have chunks of pumpkin, but instead the pumpkin is cooked to a mash so that the peas and rice are floating in a creamy orange mash; the peas pop in your mouth and the seeds give crunch, making this the ultimate winter comfort dish. This is another recipe from Maxine Clark's wonderful 'Risotto' book, which i have mentioned in at least two earlier posts. I was pleased to note that Maxine writes that she is "a fan of frozen peas" and is "never ashamed to use them". While i do grow peas i tend to use them all fresh (often they don't make it as far as the table, but just provide a tasty snack while working in the garden), so peas are the one vegetable that i buy frozen from the supermarket.
PUMPKIN and PEA RISOTTO with TOASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS
Maxine Clark, 'Risotto'
60 g butter
3 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
About 1 litre vegetable or chicken stock
1 large onion, finely chopped
500 g fresh butternut squash or pumpkin, peeled and finely diced
300 g risotto rice
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
200 g frozen peas, cooked and drained
75 g freshly grated Parmesan cheese
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a dry frying pan toast the pumpkin seeds over a moderate heat. Stir stir constantly until they begin to brown, then remove from the frying pan.
Put the stock in a saucepan and keep at a gentle simmer. Melt the remaining butter in a large, heavy saucepan and add the onion. Cook gently for 10 minutes until soft and translucent but not browned. Add the squash or pumpkin and cook, stirring constantly over the heat for 15 minutes until it begins to soften and disintegrate. Mash the pumpkin in the pan with a potato masher. (N.B. i sometimes find the pumpkin is not yet ready to be mashed by this stage, but i continue with the next stage (adding liquid) and make sure i mash the pumpkin before the rice begins to soften too much). Stir in the rice to coat with the butter and mashed pumpkin. Cook for a couple of minutes to toast the grains.
Begin adding the stock, a large ladle at a time, stirring gently until each ladle has almost been absorbed by the rice. The risotto should be kept at a bare simmer throughout cooking, so don't let the rice dry out - add more stock as necessary. Continue until the rice is tender and creamy, but the grains still firm (this should take 15 to 20 minutes depending on the type of rice used - check the packet instructions).
Taste and season well with salt and pepper and stir in the mint, peas, and all the Parmesan. Cover and let rest for a couple of minutes so the risotto can relax, then serve immediately, sprinkled with the pumpkin seeds. You may like to add a little more hot stock to the risotto just before you serve to loosen it, but don't let it wait around too long or the rice will turn mushy.