Thursday, September 11, 2008

Pumpkin and Pistachio Risotto

Vegetarians tired of the standard dinner party fare will love this elegant Italian combination of creamy, golden rice and orange pumpkin, and so will everyone else. It would look particularly impressive served in the hollowed-out pumpkin shell. Recipe serves 4.


2 pints (1.2 litres) vegetable stock or water
Generous pinch of saffron strands
2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 pound ( 1kg) pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cut into 3/4 inch (2 cm) cubes
2 cups risotto rice
7 fl oz (299 ml) dry white wine
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup pistachios, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons chopped fresh marjoram or oregano, plus leaves to garnish
Salt, freshly grated nutmeg and freshly ground black pepper


1. Bring the stock or water to the boil and reduce to a low simmer. Ladle a little of it into a small bowl. Add the saffron strands and leave to infuse.
2. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan or deep frying pan. Add the onion and garlic, and cook gently for about 5 minutes until softened. Add the pumpkin and rice and stir to coat everything in oil. Cook for a few more minutes until the rice looks transparent.
3. Pour in the wine and allow it to bubble hard. When it has been absorbed, add a quarter of the hot stock or water and the saffron liquid. Stir until all the liquid has been absorbed. Gradually add the remaining stock or water, a little at a time, allowing the rice to absorb the liquid before adding more, and stirring constantly. After 20-30 minutes the rice should be golden yellow, creamy and al dente.
4. Stir in the Parmesan cheese, cover the pan and leave the risotto to stand for 5 minutes. To finish, stir in the pistachios and marjoram or oregano. Season to taste with a little salt, nutmeg and pepper, scatter over a few marjoram or oregano leaves and serve.

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