Pumpkin Risotto With Watercress Pesto(v). Make the Most of Autumn’s Rich Harvest with Watercress. With the arrival of Autumn comes nature’s rich harvest – fabulous root veg, fruit, nuts and seeds – all begging to be united in mouth-watering combinations, some warming and filling, some simple and light, but all delicious.
Development Chef Keri Astill-Frew has taken the best of nature’s larder and conjured up some autumn magic blending it effortlessly with that ultimate healthy powerhouse, watercress.
By October we’re coming to the end of the UK watercress season, however, The Watercress Company owns and works beds in Spain and Florida to ensure a year-long supply of British farmed watercress.
Good news for us all as it only makes sense to eat more of this flavoursome leaf which gram for gram contains more calcium than milk, more folate than banana, more Vitamin C than oranges and more Vitamin E than broccoli, while compelling scientific research suggests that there is a powerful link between watercress and cancer prevention.
Welcome the change in season with these three fabulous autumn recipes.
Over the next few days, I will share them all, starting with Pumpkin risotto with watercress pesto (v).
How To Make Pumpkin risotto with watercress pesto (v):
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
- 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
Pumpkin Risotto With Watercress Pesto Method:
- 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.
- 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.
- Next make the pesto by blending together the parmesan, pine nuts and watercress before slowly adding the olive oil and seasoning to taste.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
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These recipes were created by development chef Keri Astill-Frew. Keri has worked in top restaurants across the UK including a Michelin star hotel in Lancashire and a variety of fine dining restaurants and gastro-pubs in Dorset and Sussex. She is passionate about watercress, both as an ingredient and for its fantastic health benefits and is devoted to developing new and delicious ways for you to incorporate more of it into your diet. For more information and many more recipes please visit The Watercress Company or Watercress.
Recipe Photography Credits: Lara Jane Thorpe
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