My favourite, risotto with pumpkin

The microwave opened a new door to the wonders of baked pumpkin, freeing us from the agony of slicing it and the danger of skinning it. Baked in the microwave, pumpkin reduces to a marvellous melting consistency, easily, relatively quickly, and you can peel the skin away as if it is a new season’s mandarin. Worked through pasta with a little cream, pepper and herbs, it makes for a quick and delicious dish. Worked similarly through risotto, it stands as the most cooked dish in my kitchen.

1 medium-sized onion, chopped finely

1 clove garlic, chopped finely

¬Ĺ cup virgin olive oil

2 cups Italian rice, usually labelled Arborio rice

plenty of stock or boiling water

1 butternut pumpkin

plenty of tarragon, leaves removed from the stems

a good amount of thyme salt black pepper Parmesan 2 teaspoons black poppy seeds

1

Make the risotto and while it is going through its usual phases, have the butternut pumpkin in the microwave chuffing away. It will take about 25 minutes on high, depending on the power of your machine.

2

When the pumpkin is done, skin half of it, leaving the rest for another day, and remove the seeds. Lightly mash the pumpkin with a fork, mixing in most of the tarragon and thyme. Keep a little of the herbs for the table.

3

When the risotto is about nine- tenths done, mix the pumpkin in, stirring it so it touches as many grains as possible. Continue the cooking until the rice is done. Season, toss in the poppy seeds, and mix through.

4

Serve in large bowls, with Parmesan on the side for mixing through and herbs for sprinkling.

WINE: ¬†Imagine a cold winter’s day, a big steaming bowl of pumpkin risotto in front of you. How about an Australian amontillado or oloroso sherry? Nutty, bitter-sweet, delicious. Seppelt, Mc Williams, Mildara all make good sherry. Go to the top of the range.