Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Roast Butternut pumpkin/squash risotto

This is one of my favourite dishes to make, especially when the weather starts getting shitty...And most people seem to love it also :)  bonus!
Photo by jamie aka http://backseatchef.wordpress.com/

Was feeling mighty hung over when i made this, but luckily the only thing that went wrong was that i left the "garnish" pumpkin cubes get a little burnt in zee oven...  Everyone seemed to like it though - in fact Jamie had already posted this on her blog by Monday morning :D

If you're in Malta, butternut are grown to pretty spectacular sizes, and left to ripen on roofs, the old Maltese way.  This makes for an incredibly sweet, tasty pumpkin, that works so well with any dish!  They don't always refer to it as butternut, so try asking for the "long red pumpkin" or "qara hamra mit-tawwalija" or something.  They get it.  I find that the maltese pumpkins, possibly because they're allowed to ripen in the sun, are much tastier, yet also don't hold their shape as well.  But seriously, the taste compensates for your gooey caramelised looking broken chunks.  mmm gooey :) 

I have stopped peeling pumpkins usually, however with a risotto, seeing I want to mash heaps of the pumpkin in, I do peel it.  I probably still would leave the peel on if i was making it for myself ;)

If you only buy part of a butternut, try asking for the top end.  That way you can just slice it thickly and cut each slice into cubes, removing the peel as you go.  No hassle with deseeding etc :)

This dish also works well with any pumpkin at all :) 

Ok to serve 4, you will need:
1.5 kg of butternut pumpkin/squash (or "the long red pumpkin in maltese :P), chopped into 1 inch cubes
Honey or brown sugar
1 mug arborio/carnaroli rice
3 or 4 garlic cloves
Large onion, finely chopped
A knob of butter
Extra virgin olive oil
Thyme or rosemary or sage (or a combination of both if you're so inclined :P)
about 2-3.5 cups of good veggie or chicken stock (ideally homemade)
A glass of dry white wine
Salt, pepper.

Place the butternut cubes into a large baking dish, and sprinkle some olive oil on them.  Toss them with your hands so that they are all evenly covered.  Sprinkle some thyme (or whatever herbs ur using), salt and pepper quite generously.  Then drizzle lightly with honey, or if you don't have any, just sprinkle a little bit of brown sugar on them. 

Place in a hottish oven until they are cooked and are starting to brown nicely on top, around 30-50 minutes, depending on your oven.  Keep checkin every 10 or so minutes once past 30, and when they are done, you can start the risotto.  Turn off the oven, and take out most of the pumpkin.  Leave about 1/4 of it in the dish, and place that back in the oven to keep warm (it should do just by the heat of the roasting beforehand)

at some point during the roasting of the pumpkin, toast the pinenuts in a frying pan.  :)  I accidentlaly burnt some of mine, but it only really adds to flavour :)

note the half burnt half uncooked pinenuts. that was on purpose *nods* hehe. 
Get the pumpkin you've taken out of the oven, and roughly mash it.  You don't really have to do this, but it mixes in better to the rice if you do :)

Place stock in a small saucepan on the side, just lighly simmering.  you want it to be hot as you ladle it in.

In a large deep heavy frypan (or a wok as i use), start sautéing the onions in some olive oil.  When they have softened, add the chopped garlic, and fry lightly until fragrant.  Add a knob of butter to this mix, Then add the rice.  Keep stirring until the rice is all covered with the onion butter mixture, and has started to become a little shiny and translucent.

Add the glass of wine (mmmm sizzly!!) and mix well until all the rice has been moistened, and the wine has been mostly absorbed.

At this point, start adding ladles of stock.  I like to add about half a cup at a time, stirring, letting the liquid mostly absorb, then adding some more.

I stir well when i add it in, leave it for a couple of minutes, then stir again just before adding more in.  i find that this works for a creamy textured risotto :) 

After i've added about a cup-1.5 cups of stock, and let that absorb, I add the pumpkin, and then about another 1/2 cup of stock.  Turn the heat down now, as the pumpkin will thicken it significantly and it needs to bubble less :)  Not quite minimum, enough to keep it bubblin nicely, but not fiercely!

Adjust seasoning at this point, you'll probably need to add at least a bit of salt :) 

At this point, when i add the stock, i like to cover and allow to simmer for a couple of minutes after stirring.  I like to stir it every minute though at least.

Make sure your flame isn't too high, and that you are stirring ALL the rice, as it will stick to the bottom if you don't.  

Keep doing this until the rice is tender.

If you feel that you're running out of stock, either make some more up, or just use boiling water (and some salt if it needs it) 

When it's tender (it will still have a bite to it, it's carnaroli!!), turn the heat off, cover, and leave to set for 5-10 minutes.  Trust me it's worth the wait!  The rice kind of "relaxes" and even though it's al dente, still has that tenderness to it.  yum!

Serve with a few chunks of the remaining pumpkin, and a sprinkling of pinenuts, salt and pepper.

Personally, I don't like to add grated parmiggiano to this dish, if anything it's shaved.  And when i do, i prefer to use sage as the herb.  I feel that pine nuts are a tastier garnish to this dish and add to the roasted flavour also :) 

Yay!! Here's to the 2nd of MANY butternut recipes yet to come! :D


  1. I made it! (With regular pumpkin) It was DELICIOUS!! I actually did top with a bit of grated parmesan, since I didn't have any whole pieces, and it was still great :)

    Thanks so much for this! x

    1. i put romano on it this time, sans the pine nuts.. was delicious!!! :D

      also i used a splash of port and more water, with herb stock instead of chicken.. all in all one of the best i made (although the colour was a bit off due to the ruby port!)

  2. glad u enjoyed :) personally i wouldn't put any cheese on it, but heaps of people like it with, grated or not :) yay!