RICE TO THE OCCASION FOR A REWARDING RISOTTO
Today’s recipe is for a mushroom, asparagus and roast pumpkin risotto.
The type of rice you use for a risotto is important; it must be an Italian short-grain variety such as carnaroli, arborio or vialone. They have a high starch content released during the cooking process, resulting in the characteristic creamy texture. And the long stirring is essential for the same reason. You can’t rush a risotto.
500g butternut pumpkin, peeled and cut into 2cm chunks; 2 tbsp olive oil; 70g salted butter; 2 white onions, peeled and chopped; 1 cup mushrooms, sliced; 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed; 2 cups Italian short-grain rice; 1⁄2 cup white wine; 6 cups hot vegetable stock; 1 bunch asparagus, cut into short lengths; leaves from 4 sprigs fresh thyme, plus extra for garnish; black pepper, to taste; 1⁄2 cup freshly grated parmesan, to serve
Preheat oven to 200C. Line an oven tray with foil or baking paper. Toss pumpkin in oil and spread on tray. Roast for 25 minutes or until tender. Set aside.
Melt butter in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Cook onion until soft, then add mushrooms. Cook for a further few minutes, then add garlic and rice. Cook, stirring, for a minute. Add wine and simmer until almost evaporated.
Add half a cup of hot stock to the saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, until absorbed. Continue adding hot stock, half a cup at a time, and stirring until absorbed, until half the stock is used.
Add pumpkin and continue adding stock as before. When there is only half a cup of stock left, add the pumpkin, asparagus, thyme leaves and remaining stock. Cook as before.
Remove from heat; season to taste with black pepper and garnish with extra thyme.
Serve immediately with freshly grated parmesan on the side.