At the start of October my good friend Laura tagged me in a facebook post with a "Let's go!" The Post was advertising pumpkin picking at Hewitt's farm in Orpington, Bromley, which is local to her. Obviously I replied with a resounding yes. Anything Autumnal and Halloween themed and I'm there! So do you remember that Saturday around the start of October where it torrentially rained all day? I do, because of course that was the weekend me and Laura chose to pumpkin pick. So on a very soggy saturday me, Laura and her three kids, Aiden, Alex and Ophelia, ran around a field picking pumpkins. It was probably some of the fastest pumpkin picking ever, we didn't hang about. The few pictures we took tell the story, miserable children soaked through to the bone, wanting to go home, while I excitedly ran about, squealing with delight at every pumpkin I passed. Let's be real the rain was never going to stop me from having fun with pumpkins.
After pumpkin picking we went to the lovely Pato Lounge in Orpington, which is a cosy cafe with some very good vegan options. We all warmed up from the rain with hot drinks. I had a Jackfruit burger, while Laura had a buritto bowl, and then we shared a chocolate and orange cake slice. Of course being a bad blogger I forgot to take photos of the actual food but here are some of us and the kids.
I ended up with three pumpkins, and yes I do realise that is an large amount of pumpkins, but I don't think you get how much I love pumpkin (maybe you do, I've already typed the word 5 trillion times). I chose two large ones for carving, a classic orange, and a more white one. And a pretty blue/grey pumpkin for eating. As these were brought at the beginning of October they have been living, wrapped up in my shed ever since. Carving is a task I'm very excited for and will probably make a night off. Of course having three pumpkins in my shed didn't stop me getting another cooking one, and a couple of munchkin pumpkins from my local shop. Oops! I do promise to use them all, I'm not a pumpkin waster, just a pumpkin lover.
Anyway two cooking pumpkins in tow and I needed a recipe worthy of them. I asked the question on my instagram story of how people best like their pumpkin, I got some amazing responses including pie, cheesecake, ravioli, and sliced and roasted, all of which sound tasty af. But then I decided to ignore all the answers i was given and make risotto instead, cos I'm spontaneous like that.
This pumpkin risotto is the perfect autumnal dish, creamy and indulgent, yet healthy and warming. Sage makes a perfect accompaniment to the pumpkin, while rocket adds that peppery green kick. You could switch up rocket for kale which is also currently in season And trade pumpkins for other squashes to your hearts content. I also spinkled toasted pine nuts on top, they add crunch and their deeply nutty flavour compliments the pumpkin so well. So get in the autumn food mood and dig into this!
1 large cooking pumpkin (1 and a 1/2 if you can only find small to medium ones.)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon chilli flakes
50g vegan butter
200g risotto rice
650 ml vegetable stock
A sprig of sage
1) Remove the skin from the pumpkin and cut into 2-3 cm chunks.
2) Place the pumpkin on to a roasting tray. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg and chilli flakes and mix so the pumpkin is covered evenly. Season with pepper and salt to your taste. Place into the oven at 200'c, to Roast for 40 minutes, until the pumpkin is starting to brown and crisp.
3) place 200g of the roasted pumpkin into a blender along with the stock and 2 sage leaves. Blend until smooth.
4) Place the butter in a large pan on a low heat. Once melted add the risotto rice and fry for one minute.
5) Add the pumpkin stock to the pan one ladle at a time. After adding each ladle stir continuously until all the stock has been absorbed before adding the next one.
6) Place a small pan on a low heat and toast a handful of pine nuts, for a couple of minutes, until they are brown,
7) Finely chop the rest of the sage and once all the liquid is absorbed stir in the sage and remaining roasted pumpkin.
8) Remove the pan from the heat and add a large handful or rocket and the toasted pine nuts before enjoying.