This is not so much a baked risotto, but a risotto with roasted flavours. I wanted to experiment with some winter ingredients and used roast chestnuts and roast butternut squash.
Chestnuts are not that common in Australia, but are referred to in British and American literature – I thought I was missing out on something exciting. I’m still not sure what all the fuss is about, but they did add a nice texture contrast to the risotto. If you can’t get your hands on chestnuts, or don’t like them, you could use some toasted pine nuts instead. The first time I tried to roast chestnuts, I didn’t realise that there were some tricks to preparing them, and they consequently exploded and splattered all over the inside of my oven. For tips on how to successfully roast chestnuts, refer to this article over at the Healthy Chef blog.
If you have some home-made vegetable stock, feel free to use that instead of the stock powder and hot water. I used a little butter to finish the risotto, and skipped the cheese, but feel free to add some parmesan or other cheese as well as or instead of the butter.
What I was cooking this time last year: Date, Apricot and Walnut Pudding with Caramel Sauce
Roast Butternut Squash and Chestnut Risotto
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 small red onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 cup of arborio rice
- 250ml white wine
- 500g butternut squash
- 8 chestnuts
- 30 sage leaves
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary leaves
- 1 tablespoon vegetable stock powder (I use vegeta brand)
- hot water from the kettle
- 20g butter
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Turn the oven on to 200°C.
- Peel the butternut squash and scoop out the seeds. Chop into small 1cm dice.
- Add the diced squash to a baking tray, drizzle over 1 tablespoon of oil and tuck in the two garlic cloves unpeeled.
- Put the squash into the oven to start roasting while you prepare the chestnuts.
- Cut an x into each chestnut top, place them in a baking tray and add to the oven.
- Cook the squash until it is tender, then remove from the oven.
- Cook the chestnuts until they split their shells and are cooked.
- Remove the cooked chestnuts from the oven and wrap them in a tea-towel until they are cool enough to handle.
- Shell the chestnuts.
- Finely chop the red onion.
- Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan over a medium heat.
- Fry the sage leaves until crisp, then remove from the oil with a slotted spoon. Set aside to use as a garnish at the end of cooking.
- Add the chopped onion to the sage infused oil, cook for a couple of minutes until the onion starts to soften.
- Squeeze the roast garlic cloves into the pan, the soft centers should end up in the pan and you can discard the skins.
- Add the chopped rosemary, vegetable stock powder and rice to the pan, and stir to combine.
- Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the white wine and stir. Keep cooking and stirring occasionally until most of the wine has evaporated.
- Add 1/2 a cup of hot water from the kettle at a time. Keep adding liquid, cooking and stirring occasionally until most of the liquid has evaporated and the rice is almost cooked. Taste to test the rice, it should be slightly too firm but almost ready.
- Add the roast squash and stir to combine. Cook for a couple of minutes more until the squash is heated through and the rice is cooked.
- Add the butter and chopped chestnuts and stir to combine.
- Add the salt and pepper to taste and stir to combine. Sprinkle with the fried sage leaves to serve. Enjoy.
What is your favourite winter ritual? Has this post inspired any new ideas?
This week’s post is a twist on a recipe by Madhur Jaffrey, who is well-known in the UK for her expertise in Indian cooking. Following Madhur’s recipes helped me to build up my confidence in cooking with spices.
The cooking of the curry sauce is a little different to other curry recipes, in that you don’t fry off the spices in oil and there is also no onion which is unusual.
To dry roast your whole spices, cook them without any oil over a low to medium heat – be careful to keep the spices moving so they roast evenly and only cook until lightly toasted and the aroma is released, don’t let the spices burn, then grind to get maximum flavour into your dish. Spices can be ground in a blender, coffee grinder or a with a pestle and mortar.
Feel free to experiment and add extra vegetables to this recipe, you could add some chopped zucchini or baby spinach leaves when you add the prawns to cook. If you have a coriander aversion, I would recommend leaving out the coriander root and stalks in the curry sauce ( and leaves to garnish), but still using the coriander seeds which have a different flavor to fresh coriander.
The curry can be served with some rice or rice noodles cooked according to the instructions on the packet.
Prawn and Pumpkin Curry
- 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 2 teaspoons grated ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoons cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 2 tablespoons coriander seeds, dry roasted then ground
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, dry roasted then ground
- 1 tablespoon tamarind paste
- 1 x 400ml can coconut milk
- fresh coriander, 2 roots and about 5cm worth of the stalks finely chopped, and leaves to garnish
- 500g pumpkin
- 500g peeled raw prawns
- Dry roast the coriander and cumin seeds until fragrant. Transfer to a blender and grind seeds.
- Add the garlic, ginger, turmeric, cayenne pepper, paprika, tamarind, coriander root and stalks and coconut milk to the blender. Blend until smooth.
- Pour the coconut spice mix into a saucepan.
- Peel and de-seed the pumpkin. Chop into small cubes and add to the saucepan with the coconut spice mix. You may end up with not quite enough liquid to cover the pumpkin. If this is the case, bring the sauce and pumpkin to the boil then add a little hot water until all the pumpkin is in contact with some liquid, but be careful not to dilute the sauce too much.
- Cook over a medium heat until the pumpkin is tender, approximately 15 – 20 minutes depending on how big the pumpkin pieces are. Stir occasionally to make sure the pumpkin cooks evenly.
- Add the prawns, stirring occasionally and cook for a few minutes, until just cooked through. The prawns are cooked when they change colour from a translucent grey to an opaque pink and white.
- Your curry is ready to serve. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves. Enjoy.
What is your favorite curry? Has this post inspired any new ideas?
Cannelloni and lasagna are both wonderful dishes for the colder weather. Given the multiple steps and work involved, it is almost as easy to make two as it is to make one, and with the extra you can either surprise friends or family with the prep work done or pop one in the freezer for another time.
You will probably have extra cannelloni tubes left over from two packets, but one packet is not enough to use up all of the filling. Depending on the size of your trays, you may even be able to make a couple of individual serving versions from the recipe below.
The pine nuts will continue to cook once removed from the heat because of their high oil content, so don’t let them get too much colour on them when frying. I haven’t added salt because the high ratio of cheese adds saltiness.
- 1kg pumpkin or butternut squash
- 1 red onion
- 1 tablespoon dried chilli
- 3 cloves garlic
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 100g pine nuts
- 500g feta cheese
- 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary leaves
- 50g butter
- 6 tablespoons flour
- 1 tablespoon mustard [smooth not seeded]
- 1 litre milk
- 3 bay leaves
- 100g grated parmesan
- 200g grated tasty cheese
- 2 x 350g jars tomato based pasta sauce or 2 x 400g chopped tomatoes
- 2 x 250g packets cannelloni tubes
- 250g mozzarella cheese
- Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees celsius.
- Peel the pumpkin or squash, cut in half, scoop out any seeds and stringy insides. Chop into pieces, approximately 2cm cubes. Add chopped cubes to a baking tray.
- Finely chop red onion & garlic, and add to baking tray with the pumpkin or squash.
- Drizzle vegetables in the baking tray with 2 tablespoons olive oil and dried chilli, toss to coat.
- Bake in oven until pumpkin or squash is soft and cooked through, approximately 1 hour. You should check on the vegetables at regular intervals and give them a stir to encourage them to cook evenly.
- Meanwhile heat remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a saucepan and fry the pine nuts until lightly golden. Remove from heat.
- Once pumpkin is cooked, allow to cool, mash slightly, add the fried pine nuts, crumbled feta, nutmeg, chopped rosemary and mix to combine.
- To make the cheese sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan, add the flour and mustard and cook for a couple of minutes.
- Add a little milk to the flour & butter mixture, and continue adding milk slowly to incorporate without getting lumps. If you do happen to get lumps use a whisk to combine the ingredients.
- Add the bay leaves, and heat the sauce mix, stirring constantly over a medium heat with a wooden spoon until the sauce thickens. This does require patience. The sauce is ready to remove from the heat if you can run a finger along the back of the wooden spoon to draw a line, and the line remains on the spoon.
- Remove the sauce from the heat, remove the bay leaves and add the grated parmesan and tasty cheese. Stir until combined, the heat should be enough to melt the cheese.
- Stir the cheese sauce every now and then while you are assembling to prevent a skin forming on the top of the sauce.
- You are now ready to assemble. Place tomato sauce in the bottom of 2 baking dishes.
- Stuff the cannelloni tubes with the pumpkin mixture, and place in a single layer in the baking trays on top of the tomato sauce.
- Once the trays are full, poor cheese sauce over the cannelloni tubes to cover and sprinkle the tops with mozzarella.
- You can either cook a tray of cannelloni in a 180 degrees celsius oven for 45 minutes or until the pasta is cooked and the top is golden brown, or refrigerate or freeze to cook later. Enjoy.
What favourite pasta recipes do you like to make on a regular basis? Has this post inspired any new ideas?
As the temperature starts to drop, and [thanks to the end of daylight savings] as most of us are getting home from work in the dark, a comforting soup is the perfect midweek dinner [great to have on standby].
I tend to make a big batch of my Thai Curried Pumpkin Soup on a lazy Sunday afternoon, and freeze into individual portions so that I have some on standby for a quick mid-week dinner when I don’t have the energy to cook something from scratch.
Even though this recipe is called pumpkin soup, I prefer to use butternut squash – it lends a sweeter, nutty flavour and I find it easier to peel and chop than pumpkin. The red lentils add protein, fibre and some extra bulk to the soup that transforms this recipe from a snack to a meal. No need to add extra salt because the stock contains plenty to season the soup.
© image not to be used without permission
Thai Curried Pumpkin Soup
- 1 tablespoon oil [whatever you have on hand – olive oil, vegetable oil etc]
- 2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste [any good store-bought curry paste you like]
- 1 large onion
- 1 or 2 chillies [optional]
- 1/2 a butternut squash or approximately 750g of pumpkin
- 1 celery stick
- 2 kaffir lime leaves
- 1 cup of red lentils
- 1 x 400ml can coconut cream [or coconut milk if you are watching your fat intake – shake can before using because solids may have separated out]
- 1 400g tin chopped tomatoes in juice
- 1 tablespoon vegetable stock powder [I use Vegeta brand, or if you have homemade stock, use this instead and discard the need to add water]
- Water to cover
- 1 bunch of coriander [including roots, if you can find it]
- Peel and chop the butternut squash into cubes, discarding the seeds and skin.
- Finely chop the celery stick, coriander stalks and root [reserve coriander leaves for garnishing]
- Finely chop the onion, and chillies if using
- Heat oil in large pot over medium heat, add onion, chillies and curry paste. Cook until onion softens, stirring occasionally.
- Add the celery, chopped coriander stalks and root, chopped butternut squash, tinned tomatoes, lentils, kaffir lime leaves, coconut cream and vegetable stock. Add water to cover the ingredients – I fill up the empty cans when doing this to get the last of the coconut cream / tomatoes out and into the soup. Place lid on the pot and turn up heat until pot comes to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until lentils and pumpkin are soft and cooked, stirring occasionally to make sure nothing catches and burns on the bottom of the pan.
- Remove kaffir lime leaves and discard.
- Blend soup with stick mixer until smooth. [Or transfer in small batches to a blender – be careful doing this in a blender because the hot liquid will release steam, build up pressure and may cause the lid to come off, covering you and your kitchen with hot soup. Don’t overfill the blender, release the centre of the blender lid to allow steam to escape and hold lid on with a tea towel while processing to avoid ending up with a mess and / or burns.]
- Soup can be eaten straight away with a sprinkle of coriander leaves on top, or cooled and reheated later. Also freezes well – freeze in 1 portion size containers of about 500mls. This is delicious served with warmed garlic naan bread alongside [not very authentically Thai but tasty all the same].
What are your favourite recipes to fight off the cooler weather? Has this post inspired any new ideas?