When the nights are cold, dark, wet and windy, you need a winter warmer to help warm your cockles - so following on from an evening visit to one of my most favourite of foodie places here in Wales, I've come up with my own version of a risotto recipe that ticks all of the boxes you need this Winter.
I was inspired to make this dish following a visit last weekend to our new favourite place to eat, drink and be merry - Wright's Emporium, in Llanarthney Carmarthenshire. Wright's a wonderful, easy-going cafe cum restaurant that has the most fab deli and wine cellar attached, cake to die for and the cosiest of open fires to sit around.
The stand out dish though was the risotto and I just had to try and recreate it - So here is my version, a pumpkin, sage and blue cheese risotto, served in a mini roasted pumpkin for extra cute factor! It is rich, unctuous, a little naughty but given a zesty kick of a citrus and hazelnuts, it will get your taste buds tingling.
Pumpkin, Sage & Blue Cheese Risotto
1 medium pumpkin or squash – organic if possible
sea salt and black pepper
handful of sage leaves, finely sliced
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 stick of celery, finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, mashed to a paste
250 grams arborio risotto rice
125ml white wine – medium dry if possible
1 litre organic vegetable stock
100gms unsalted butter
150gms perl las (or other blue) cheese
50gms parmesan cheese
glug of double cream or 1 desertspoon of mascarpone cheese
handful of red raddichio leaves
handful toasted hazelnuts
1 unwaxed lemon
small roasted pumpkins to serve (optional)
Slice the top off the pumpkin, remove the seeds and fibre, cut into wedges, leaving one wedge to the side. Drizzle the rest of the wedges with a little olive oil and season with salt, pepper and a desertspoon of chopped sage. Roast in a hot oven until soft – this should take about 45 minutes to 1 hour. When it is cooked remove from the oven and leave to cool. Scoop the flesh away from the skins, discarding the skins and chop the flesh into chunks. Mash the pumpkin to a puree – either using a spoon, potato masher, ricer or blender until smooth. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Smash the hazelnuts in a pestle and mortar until roughly crushed, zest an unwaxed lemon finely and add to the nuts with the rest of the sage and a large pinch of sea salt flakes. Leave to one side.
Cut the skin off the remaining uncooked wedge of pumpkin and cut into dice.
When you are ready to cook the risotto, warm the stock in a saucepan; heat a heavy bottomed frying pan and melt a small knob of the butter with a tablespoon of olive oil. Gently fry the onion and celery until soft and translucent without colouring it. Add the cubes of pumpkin and cook until starting to get soft, add the garlic and cook for a minute, stirring to prevent it from burning. Add the rice, turn up the heat and stir to coat the pumpkin and rice in the butter and oil for a minute or so. Add the white wine and stir until the wine is absorbed. Turn the heat to low and add a ladleful of stock at a time and stir until the liquid has been absorbed. Continue to add a ladleful of stock at a time, stirring to absorb the stock. This will take about 15 – 20 minutes until most of the stock has been absorbed and the rice is almost cooked through.
Taste to see if it is cooked to your liking – there should still be a tiny bit of bite to the rice – like al dente pasta – it shouldn’t be totally soft or mushy. When your get the right consistency, spoon in the pumpkin puree and stir over a low heat for a minute, then take the pan off the heat, add the rest of the butter, the blue cheese, parmesan and a glug of double cream or spoon of mascarpone cheese, the radicchio leaves and a squeeze of lemon juice. Cover with a lid and leave for about 3 minutes.
Give the mix a little stir, taste and season with more salt and pepper and more lemon juice if needed. Serve in small roasted pumpkins or in deep bowls. Sprinkle over the hazelnuts, sage & lemon zest to serve.
I hope you enjoy these recipes and if you cook any of them, send me a picture – I would love to see your creations!