A warm­ing bowl of au­tumn good­ness

Central Otago Mirror - - FEATURES -

With the weather cool­ing, I felt the need to share a mor­eish and com­fort­ing veg­e­tar­ian risotto this week. But­ter­nut and leeks are in sea­son so I thought I would utilise th­ese de­li­cious veg­eta­bles whilst priced well in the su­per­mar­kets. Pine nuts, on the other hand, are never cheap . . . this would be due to the dif­fi­cult na­ture in which they are har­vested. Pine nuts come from pinecones. Once you read that sen­tence it’s seems ob­vi­ous, how­ever a lot of peo­ple don’t put the two to­gether! Th­ese are the ed­i­ble seeds that grow un­der­neath the scales of pinecones.

They are ready to har­vest about 10 days be­fore the green cone be­gins to open. The cones are dried for about 20 days then smashed to get the seeds out. How­ever this is where it gets dif­fi­cult . . . the pinecone is just the pine nuts’ first shell. They also have a sec­ond shell that has to be re­moved be­fore eat­ing.

Th­ese shells vary in thick­ness and are chal­leng­ing to re­move, depend­ing on which species they are.

But­ter­nut and leek risotto with toasted pine nuts.

Armed with this knowl­edge, it is per­haps eas­ier to com­pre­hend and jus­tify their high price!

Pine nuts are nu­tri­tional pow­er­houses.

They are high in pro­tein, an­tiox­i­dants, and mo­noun­sat­u­rated fats and con­tain a plethora of min­er­als and vi­ta­mins.

Prob­a­bly best known for their use in pesto, they have a very del­i­cate taste and tex­ture, and when cooked th­ese char­ac­ter­is­tics are height­ened.

This is a sim­ple mor­eish dish the whole fam­ily will en­joy.

If you are feel­ing a lit­tle in­dul­gent, pop in 150g of mascarpone when you add in the parme­san, its de­li­cious!

But­ter­nut and Leek Risotto with Toasted Pine Nuts Prep Time: 10 mins Cook time: 30 mins In­gre­di­ents

4 ta­ble­spoons but­ter 1 large hand­ful sage leaves, torn (keep 6 whole for gar­nish) 500g cubed, peeled but­ter­nut or pump­kin 2 litres veg­etable or chicken stock 1 leek thinly sliced 350g risotto rice 4 ta­ble­spoons olive oil 50-60g Parme­san, grated 40g pine nuts

Method

1. Put 2 ta­ble­spoons of but­ter in a pot and melt til golden brown. 2. Add torn sage leaves and cook un­til they wilt. 3. Next add the but­ter­nut and cook over a medium heat for about a minute, stir­ring to coat the but­ter­nut with but­ter. 4. Add 300ml of the stock to the pot and cook over a medium high heat, sim­mer­ing un­til but­ter­nut is still slightly firm. 5. Re­move 2/3 of the cubed pump­kin and place in a bowl. Mash the re­main­ing third in the pot with the stock and sage. Keep both warm. Bring the rest of the stock to a sim­mer. 6. In an­other large pot, melt re­main­ing but­ter. Add the leeks and cook un­til soft­ened, be­ing care­ful not to brown it. 7. Add in rice cook over medi­umhigh heat for 1 minute, stir­ring con­stantly un­til the rice looks a lit­tle trans­par­ent. 8. La­dle in enough stock to cover the rice, then turn the heat down a lit­tle so the rice and stock are sim­mer­ing. 9. Gen­tly cook un­til most of the liq­uid is ab­sorbed, then la­dle in more stock, cov­er­ing rice un­til ab­sorbed. Con­tinue cooking like this un­til the rice is al dente (a lit­tle firm on the in­side), usu­ally round 12-14mins. 10. Mean­while, to toast your pine nuts, place a pan on a medium high heat and pour in the nuts. They turn very quickly so don’t leave them unat­tended. Cook un­til light brown, usu­ally round 4-5 mins and re­move from pan. 11. In the same pan, pour in the 4 ta­ble­spoons of olive oil and heat to a medium high heat. Fry sage leaves for 3-4 secs each un­til crispy and take out and place on pa­per towel. 12. Next pour in the mashed but­ter­nut and com­bine with the risotto. Mix in Parme­san then gen­tly tip in your left over cubed but­ter­nut and com­bine. Add salt to taste. 13. Divide evenly amongst four bowls. Sprin­kle with toasted pine nuts and 2-3 fried sage leaves each. Serve im­me­di­ately with fresh grated parme­san.

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