Life’s a Feast: Butternut and sage risotto

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Risotto is the perfect comfort food during winter. It is a hugely versatile dish, allowing you to substitute the core ingredients in this recipe for almost anything in your fridge!

I have used pine nuts. Sadly they are never cheap because of the difficult way in which they are harvested. Pine nuts are the edible seeds that grow underneath the scales of pine cones.

They are nutritional powerhouses, being high in protein, antioxidants and monounsaturated fats, and contain a plethora of minerals and vitamins. If you are feeling a little indulgent, pop in 150g of mascarpone when you add the parmesan – it’s delicious! Enjoy.

 

PREP TIME: 10 mins

COOK TIME: 30 mins

SERVES: 4 people

 

Ingredients

4 tablespoons butter

1 large handful sage leaves, torn (keepsix whole for garnish)

500g butternut, peeled and cubed

2 litres vegetable or chicken stock

1 leek, thinly-sliced

125ml cup) white wine

350g risotto rice

4 tablespoons olive oil

50-60g parmesan, grated

40g pine nuts

Method

  1. Put two tablespoons of butter in a pot, melt till golden brown. Add torn sage leaves and cook until they wilt.
  2. Next add the butternut and cook over a medium heat for about a minute, stirring to coat butternut with butter.
  3. Add 300ml of the stock to the pot and cook over a medium-high heat, simmering until butternut is still slightly firm. Remove two-thirds of the cubed butternut and place in a bowl. Mash the remaining third in the pot with the stock and sage. Keep both warm.
  4. Bring the rest of the stock to a simmer.
  5. In another large pot, melt remaining butter. Add leeks and cook until softened, being careful not to brown. Add rice, cook over medium-high heat for 1 minute, stirring constantly until rice looks a little transparent.
  6. Pour in wine and cook until near fully absorbed. Ladle in enough stock to cover the rice, then turn the heat down a little so the rice and stock are simmering. 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 13-15 mins.
  7. Toast your pine nuts by placing in a pan on medium-high heat. They turn very quickly so don’t leave them unattended. Cook until light brown, usually round 4-5 mins, then remove. In the same pan, pour in olive oil and heat to a medium-high heat. Fry sage leaves for 3-4 secs each until crispy. Take out and place on paper towel.
  8. 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.
  9. Divide evenly amongst four bowls. Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts and 2-3 fried sage leaves each. Serve immediately with fresh grated parmesan.

NB:For added indulgence fry up 50g pancetta, add 50g bread crumbs, thoroughly combine, then drain on paper towels. Chop in a blender then sprinkle over the risotto.