Pumpkin & mushroom risotto with roast pumpkin and feta salad


  • trim the skin and seeds from a 1kg piece of pumpkin. Cut about two thirds into moderately small dice, dress in a baking tray with garlic oil, and roast at 180c till soft and slightly browned; grate the remaining third and set aside.
  • slice about 200g of mushrooms into quarters; slice three medium leeks into half cm slices; dice about one rasher of bacon; finely chop about two cloves of garlic
  • put a small amount of dried mushrooms into a mug, and cover with boiling water – leave to infuse
  • thinly slice a small-medium brown onion, place in a water-tight container with some salt and pepper; shake well, then add a little lemon juice. Leave to lightly pickle
  • If using pre-prepared home-made frozen stock, defrost – either way, bring about half a litre of chicken stock to the boil. Fill the kettle and boil this too

To make risotto:

Add a little butter and olive oil to a hot skillet – start by cooking off the leeks and bacon, then add the mushrooms and garlic. If you have some left-over white wine, add it now and cook the liquid off before adding the pumpkin and a cupful or so of aborio rice (the more rice you use, the more stock/hot water you’ll need, and to a point the more veg you’ll need.) I actually used a slosh of pepperberry gin instead of wine at this point and flamed it off before adding the pumpkin and rice, but this was really a function of what was available in the kitchen at the time…

When the pumpkin and rice begin to stick to the pan a bit (keep stirring, always stirring), deglaze with the “mushroom tea” (roughly chop the soaked mushrooms and stir these in too), stir until this is soaked in, add some of the hot chicken stock, stir some more until the stock is soaked in, add more, stir, and so on. When the stock runs out, use water from the kettle; keep going until the rice is cooked, then off the heat stir in plenty of grated parmesan  or other hard cheese and a generous amount of butter, along with a good amount of cracked pepper. (Add salt at this stage if required – I added a little as I went along. You’ll definitely need a good amount of salt if you’re using home-made chicken stock.)

To serve:

Add some risotto to the bowl, then arrange the roasted pumpkin (which by now will hopefully be out of the oven and slightly cooled), the pickled onion, some rocket leaves and crumbled feta on top.