Pumpkin Risotto with Watercress Pesto

Serves: 4

You will need

1 small pumpkin or butternut squash
200g Arborio risotto rice
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
5 shallots, peeled and finely diced
1 tbsp olive oil plus more for drizzling
100ml white wine
1 litre of hot vegetable stock
35g watercress
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds, toasted
25g cold butter 

For the pesto

50g vegetarian parmesan
50g pine nuts, toasted
50g watercress
75ml olive oil


1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.  Peel the pumpkin, remove the seeds and chop into 2cm cubes.  Place half of the pumpkin onto an oven tray, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper before placing into the preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until the pumpkin is soft in the middle and starting to colour on the outside. 

2. Put the remaining pumpkin into a medium sized saucepan and cover with cold water.  Add a pinch of salt and bring to the boil, simmering for 15-20 minutes or until the pumpkin is soft and cooked through.  Drain and blend in a food processor until smooth.  This pumpkin puree will be stirred through the risotto to give it a good colour and flavour.

3. Next make the pesto by blending together the parmesan, pine nuts and watercress before slowly adding the olive oil and seasoning to taste.

4. Take a large frying pan or wok and place on a medium heat.  Add a tablespoon of olive oil and throw in the diced shallots and garlic along with a pinch of salt.  Fry gently for a few minutes, being careful not to allow the shallots to colour or burn.  Add in the risotto rice and continue to fry for a further few minutes before adding in the white wine.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir the rice and shallot mixture until almost all the wine has been absorbed.

5. Use a ladle or small jug to pour one quarter of the vegetable stock into the pan and cook until the liquid has been absorbed, stirring frequently.  Repeat until all the liquid has been used up which should take around 20 minutes.  Check that the rice is cooked through and add a splash more water if necessary.

6. Finally stir in the watercress, pumpkin puree, diced roast pumpkin and cold butter then season to taste with salt and pepper.  Spoon the risotto into four bowls, scatter over the pumpkins seeds and finally drizzle generously with watercress pesto.  Serve and enjoy!

Make the most of autumn and all it has to offer with these and other great recipes featuring watercress and seasonal ingredients by visiting www.watercress.co.uk

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