Sommer Pyne, of online lifestyle shop House Curious, shares a wholesome light supper to warm the soul (plus a delicious tipple to enjoy this weekend).
For me, autumn is all about comfort food, making the most of seasonal ingredients like butternut squash, pumpkin, apples and blackberries.
This roast pumpkin, smoked pancetta and crispy sage risotto with hazelnuts was created with the girls from Spread London for House Curious Food Stories and it’s now a firm favourite. It’s so versatile too and can be switched up for vegetarians by using veggie stock and excluding the pancetta. We like to serve it in the shell of the pumpkin.
A hearty and warm autumn dish that works really well as a starter or as main course in itself.
1 small pumpkin
300g Arborio rice
1 stick celery, finely diced
2 shallots, finely diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
100ml white wine
500ml chicken stock
6 slices smoked pancetta
1 bunch fresh sage
Parmesan to serve
1. Prepare your pumpkin by slicing it in half and scooping out the seeds with a spoon. Slice your halves into chunks, coating them in some olive oil, salt and pepper and pop them in the oven on 180̊̊c for approximately 30 minutes. When the pumpkin is starting to brown and is soft throughout then remove and set aside.
2. While the risotto is cooking, or your pumpkin is in the oven, pop your pancetta under the grill and keep an eye on it until it’s superbly crispy and bubbling. The hazelnuts need to go on a plain baking tray for 10 minutes, so you could always pop these in at the same time as the pumpkin.
3. To make the risotto base, melt half the butter in a large, heavy-bottom pan on a medium to high heat. Add the clove of garlic, shallots and celery and sweat down for approximately five minutes until the onions and celery have become soft. Be careful not to let the butter burn and add a splash of olive oil if it starts to turn a little brown.
4. Add in the risotto rice and stir thoroughly until the grains are well coated. After another couple of minutes, pour in the wine and let it bubble on a high heat until it has reduced by a third.
5. Reduce the temperature to a simmer. Start adding your stock in small amounts, stirring thoroughly after each addition. Your risotto may need a little more, or a little less, liquid – you’re looking for al dente rice with all the liquid absorbed.
6. Put half of the pre-roasted pumpkin aside and chop the remaining half finely, until almost a paste. Mix the well-chopped pumpkin in with the risotto until piping hot again and get ready to serve.
7. To make the crispy sage butter, simply melt the remaining butter in a small sauce pan and add the sage leaves individually. The butter will foam, and the leaves darken, which is when it is best to either remove them and dry on a piece of kitchen roll (for very crispy sage) or to pour the delicious sage butter over your finished risotto.
8. To serve, place the risotto in the bottom of a bowl (or hollowed-out pumpkin) and lay some of the larger pieces of roasted pumpkin on top, along with a few shards of pancetta, the sage butter and some chopped toasted hazelnuts. Add parmesan to taste and enjoy!
Another delicious early-autumn favourite of mine is blackberries. This delicious gin cocktail will be sure to impress your guests and it’s super easy to make.
3 fresh blackberries
1 tsp sugar
Blackberries and thyme to garnish
1. Place three blackberries in a glass with sugar. Muddle together until the sugar has dissolved. The more blackberries you add, the darker the colour will be. Three blackberries will give you a beautiful purple colour.
2. Add the juice of one or two limes. Stir to combine.
3. Add ice cubes followed by 50ml of gin.
4. Slowly pour in the club soda.
5. Garnish with fresh blackberries, edible flowers and a sprig of thyme. Stir and enjoy!