Pumpkin, Mascarpone and Pancetta Risotto with sage and pinenuts
I'll be honest, this was originally intended as an autumn recipe; you know, something warming and hearty for those cold nights in. But then I figured that since this January has been exceptionally miserable weather-wise, why not share it now?
A pumpkin-based dish might sound specific to the autumn months, but the beauty of this risotto is that it requires tinned pumpkin that you can find year-round. But, should you wish, butternut squash or sweet potato would work too. Pancetta isn't as fancy as it might sound either. For the 130g you'll need for this recipe, you can find it in Tesco for 99c. Ideal for January- the poorest month of the year (or is that just me?).
Not only is this a great dish to help warm you up during the cold weather, it's also a super handy one to make ahead and can be frozen and reheated, making your meal-planning for the week ahead nice and simple. The onion and garlic is great for keeping colds at bay and the nutrient-dense pumpkin will help you overcome any January blues you may be feeling.
This is truly one of my favourite meals. This recipe feeds 4, but since I live alone, it's one that I happily eat for lunch AND dinner for days in a row without ever getting sick of it. Not many meals I can say that about (mostly because chocolate doesn't count as a meal...)! I really hope you give this a try and enjoy it as much as I do.
- 400g of arborio rice
- 425g can of pureed pumpkin (I use Libby's that I picked up at Fallon and Byrne.)
- 130g of smoked pancetta cubes
- 2- 2.5l of chicken stock, depending on how absorbent your rice is.
- 3 tablespoons of mascarpone cheese
- 1 medium white onion, diced
- 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
- Handful of pine nuts
- 1 tablespoon of finely chopped sage
- 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
- Salt and pepper
- Cooking oil (I use hazelnut oil, but any oil works fine.)
In a large pot, sweat the onion and garlic in about a teaspoon of oil until soft. Sprinkle on the paprika, salt and pepper and then add the rice. On a low heat, stir until everything is combined.
Ladle by ladle, add the stock, waiting until each ladleful is absorbed before you add the next. This can be time consuming; taking about 35 minutes. As you near the end of the stock, pay close attention to the texture of the rice by tasting it. Once it's cooked, you can stop adding the stock.
In a separate pan, toast the pine nuts until golden. Remove and set aside. In the same pan, fry the pancetta until crispy. I like to do this separately to the risotto so that the pancetta doesn't lose its crispiness and so that I can reuse the fat that renders out (great for roasting potatoes, sautéing vegetables or even scrambling eggs in) .
Once the rice is soft enough to eat, carefully fold in the pumpkin. Next, add the mascarpone and the cooked pancetta, Finally, sprinkle over the chopped sage and pine nuts.
I hope you enjoy!
Photography by Louise Dockery. (Major thanks to my friend Claire from Studio Brown for helping with the edits.)