I often get bored with seeing the same old mushroom risotto listed on restaurant menus and I often feel that when it comes to the vegetarian dishes they forget that also we don’t crunch corpses we do still enjoy a bit of culinary luxury. So here is my recipe for an altogether more luxurious and satisfying vegetarian risotto. Remember extravagance should never  be mixed with guilt, so here goes…


850g pumpkin or butternut squash

1 leek finely sliced

2 tbsp fresh marjoram leaves

2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

5 tbsp olive oil

800 ml vegetable stock

50ml brandy

250 ml champagne

150g unsalted butter, softened

1 medium red onion, very finely chopped

300g risotto rice (such as Arborio)

Fresh flat leaf parsley chopped

Fresh sea salt

Fresh black pepper

Preheat the oven to 220°C, fan 200°C, gas 7. Remove the seeds and fibres from the pumpkin cutting the flesh into large, peeled, chunks.

Place, the pumpkin on a baking tray. Season with sea salt and black pepper and scatter over the marjoram and garlic.

Pour over 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and rub into the flesh. Cover with foil and bake the pumpkin for 50 minutes or until it is tender and fully cooked.

Meanwhile, heat the vegetable stock in a large pan, and keep on a low heat, covered.

Melt 75g of the butter and the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan. Gently fry the onion and leek for 6-10 minutes or until soft. Do this on a low heat, so as not to colour the onion.

Add the rice and stir until the grains become coated with butter and begin to colour – this will take 2-4 minutes.

Add the brandy and stir until it has been absorbed.

Add half of the hot stock, or just enough to cover the rice, and simmer gently until the rice has absorbed nearly all of the liquid and then add the remaining stock.

Pour in the champagne and stir

Cook for a further 15-20 minutes

Add the remaining butter, in small pieces, the roasted pumpkin, being careful not to over-stir. Sprinkle with chopped parsley. Serve immediately.