Thursday, 4 November 2010

Roast pumpkin filled with lemon and hazelnut risotto à la Cafe Paradiso

This is the third recipe from Denis Cotter's book named after his restaurant that I have tried. This is a really great vegetarian cookbook with lots of ideas that will impress dinner guests so much so that even the most ardent of meat eaters will not realise until long after desert if at all that they had a meat free meal.

I have to admit that at first I was a little put off as the recipe seemed finiky and had lots of different steps . Had it not been for the fact that I had pumpkins to use up (from the in-laws vegetable plot the weekend before) I many not have attempted the recipe. The truth is that this is the perfect recipe to use up any leftover risotto, as preparing the risotto is the bulk of the work. Once you have the risotto you only have to cut open some pumpkins, boil them for a few minutes in hot water, then stuff them with the risotto, bang them in the oven and while they are cooking, whip up a quick leek and cream sauce! The recipe suggests serving with roast parsnips and sweetcorn, I only had parsnips and could have done with roasting them a bit longer. I have also tried this recipe using a barley risotto which gives a nutier flavor and works well with the pumpkin.

For 4 people you will need:

(for the stuffed pumpkin): 2 small pumpkins cut in half with the seeds scooped out,1 onion,400mls of warm vegetable stock, 4 cloves of garlic finely chopped, 50mls dry white wine, 120g risotto rice (or pearl barley),2 tbspns hazelnuts roasted and roughly chopped, rind of one organic lemon and juice of half it,20g freshly grated parmesan, 2 tbspns olive oil, salt and freshly ground black pepper

(for leek sauce): 1 small leek washed and 2 cloves of garlic bth finely chopped, 20g of butter, 40mls dry white wine, 60mls of vegetable stock, 150ml cream, 40g freshly grated parmesan, salt and freshly ground black pepper.

500g parsnips chopped into large batons, butter and a tablespoon of honey.

Start by making the risotto: heat some of the butter in a saucepan and add onion and garlic. When onion has softened add the rice coat in butter. Pour in wine and stir until it has evaporated. The add he stock one ladle at a time, letting the rice simmer in it and waiting until each ladle has been absorbed, continue until rice is almost cooked, ie should still be a little on the firm side. Then stir in the roast hazelnuts, lemon rind and juice, parmesan, olive oil, remaining butter and season generously. Leave the risotto to cool.

Prepare the pumpkins (and parsnips). Bring some water to the boil in a large saucepan and cook pumpkin halves for about ten minutes - this is the delicate part of the operation as the pumpkins should be cooked just so, you need them to be tender but not overcooked. In another saucepan bring some more water to the boil and cook the parsnips also for about 10 mins (I just reused the saucepan and water from the pumpkins).

Heat the oven to 200°C. Fill the cavity of each pumpkin half with the risotto and place filled side down in a roasting tin lined with greaseproof paper. Make several slashes in the skin of the pumpkin and brush with olive oil. Coat the parsnips in some butter and the hone if using, season and put in a separate roasting tin. Both pumpkins and parsnips will both take about 20 - 25 minutes.

While they are cooking, prepare the sauce by frying the leeks and garlic in butter in a small pan, when the onions are soft add the wine and stock and bring to the boil for one minute. Add the cream to the sauce just before you are ready to serve the pumpkins and boil for a few minutes to reduce it to a thick consistency. Season sauce with salt and pepper.

When ready to serve place a half pumpkin on each plate with some parsnips with a large spoonful of sauce.

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