A warming bowl of autumn goodness
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
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.