Oven Baked Pumpkin, Leek and Millet Risotto


oven baked risotto

As a working mumma, my favourite part of my working day is coming home. And not because I’m getting to leave work (which some days I can’t wait to get out of there!), but because as soon as I step through our front door I hear… “Mummy’s home!!! It’s Mummy!! Hello Mummy!!” and have a little bundle of curls come running with her arms wide ready for a big cuddle. Not much can beat that. I have friends with bubs much younger who can’t crawl or talk or who are literally one week old and it’s like knowing that the awesome scene in a movie is coming up in a room of first time watchers. Smiling on the inside and the outside knowing that so much awesomeness is ahead for them.

How that relates to tonight’s recipe I have no idea. But to all you mums who may be having a hard time at the moment, the craziness will pass. The feeling overwhelmed isn’t forever. One day that little face is going to say “I love you Mummy” or you’ll be dancing together in the kitchen, shaking maraccas and trying hard not to cry at how freaking awesome being the mum to YOUR child is.

Now the feels are out… here is some warming autumn food to fill your belly with love.

Oven Baked Pumpkin, Leek and Millet Risotto – Serves 4

1/2 cup arborio rice

3/4 cup millet

500g piece of pumpkin peeled, deseeded and chopped into 1cm pieces

2 tsp dried mixed herbs

olive oil

salt and pepper

1 leek sliced into 1/2 rings and well rinsed

1 Tbsp butter

Zest 1/2 lemon

3/4 cup grated parmesan + extra for serving if desired

1L vegetable stock (I used 1.5 stock cubes to make this up)

Preheat oven to 200°C fan forced or 220°C conventional.

Place pumpkin, dried herbs, salt and pepper with a good glug of olive oil in a baking dish (you will use this dish to hold the whole risotto, I used a large pyrex baking dish). Stir to combine. Place in the oven to roast for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, add butter and 1 Tbsp olive oil to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add leek, cook stirring until soft and golden ~ 5-8 minutes. Add rice and millet, stir to coat grains. Add hot stock. Bring to a simmer. Take off heat and stir in parmesan.

Add rice mixture to the roasting pumpkin. Stir to combine. Cover with foil and return to oven. Bake at 200°C for 30 minutes, then remove foil. Continue to bake for another 15 minutes, the excess liquid will soak up and the top will get just a little crunchy. Enjoy!

My little bundle of awesomeness xxxx

My little bundle of awesomeness xxxx

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And the meat is back!

Oy, I just watched the second Hunger Games movie and need to unwind… Those films really get to me. Hopefully blogging will help.

Meat Free Week was a great success in our household! New recipes were tried and thoroughly enjoyed, and the meat wasn’t missed (that much). But I am glad to have some meat back on the menu this week. It’s good to know the huge variety of meat free recipes out there that are easy, quick and delicious. So if you’re on a budget or your conscience is getting the better of you, maybe try a meet free week for yourself and see how you go.

To finish off the week, we had roast vegetable frittata with oven baked risotto. First time I’ve made frittata and I had a bit of a frittata fail. It was delicious, don’t get me wrong. I just didn’t prepare my pan enough and it ended up sticking. And then I scraped the crap out of the pan trying to get it out. Here’s the photographic proof.

Frittata Fail

Frittata Fail

The risotto is a recipe I tried a few weeks ago and is now firmly placed in my Pink Folder of Wonder (where all my fav print out recipes go). This time I thought I would try a combination of arborio rice and millet. What is millet? Apart from being one of the main ingredients in bird food (sounds so tempting right?), it is a low allergenic grain which is a good source of many nutrients including magnesium, copper, phosphorous and iron. I’ve used it before to make some tasty millet, ricotta and mint patties. First time in a risotto. Super happy with the result. It offered a great mix of textures with the rice. I used 1 cup rice to around 3/4 cup of millet (I over poured and couldn’t get it back in the container…). I would recommend you add some variety to your grain cupboard with some millet and give it a go.

Tonight’s meal was a leftover of the risotto, some steamed veg and a quick bit of chicken. Here’s how I did the chicken…

Herby Lemon Chicken, Serves 2

Take one chicken breast. Cut a criss cross pattern on the underside.  Season with salt and pepper, a good helping of fresh lemon zest and some fresh thyme (or whatever herb takes your fancy). Lay it between two pieces of baking paper then pummel with either the bottom of a heavy pan or a heavy rolling pin (I have a solid marble rolling pin which is perfect for tasks like this. It’s also my home security system). Heat some olive oil in a pan (I used the hot plate on our stove top, but a BBQ would be perfect). Cook for a few minutes either side then let rest before slicing and dividing into two serves.

Herby Lemon Chicken

Herby Lemon Chicken

Herby Lemon Chicken with Vegetables and Risotto

Affordability : MODERATE. Splitting one chicken breast between two offered plenty of meat while cutting down cost. The risotto makes a large amount and can be frozen for another day. A good variety of veg on the side and you have yourself quite an affordable but delicious meal.

Time Factor : MODERATE. Thankfully the risotto was leftovers tonight and only took 2 minutes in the microwave, but originally take about an hour from go to gob. I cook my corn in the microwave, little trick I learnt at work. Using a leftover bag you use from your fruit and veg shopping (the clear super light ones), pop your corn and a spoon of water in the bag. Tie a knot in the top then microwave for 1.5 minutes. Ta Dah! Easy work snack and super easy dinner side.

Complexity : MODERATE. I choose to make my own tomato sauce for the risotto (recipe is at the foot of the main recipe). But you could make this more simple by using a store bought sauce (though I doubt it would be a delish).

Deliciousness : MODERATE. To be honest, the chicken let the team down a bit tonight. Breast meat has a tendency to get dry. Next time I would stick to using thigh meat like I normally do. But the risotto is delicious and I love fresh corn on the cob.

Mess : MODERATE. An oven pan, two saucepans, a grill pan and some microwave container for the veg.

Tummy Filling Factor : EXCELLENT. Great mix of veg, carbs and protein means I am nicely full and stayed full.

Possum Friendly? YES. I didn’t make enough chicken to give to her tomorrow, but would be an excellent way to offer some simple meat. Possum loves this risotto recipe. She isn’t too happy with plain steamed veg. Tonight I gave her some ocean trout (which she gobbled up at lightning speed) and some fried capsicum, with grapes and yoghurt for after.

Would I make it again? Yes. I think I’d try some other things before doing the chicken breast again, but it was a great quick way to flavour and cook the meat. It made me want to make schnitzel though.

Herby Lemon Chicken and Vegetables with RIsotto

Herby Lemon Chicken and Vegetables with RIsotto

In other news, Possum is on the mend. And crawling!! Very proud mummy 🙂

Will post my meal plan for the week tomorrow.

Meal Plan 22/3 – 28/3 a Meat Free Week Special!!

This week I am attempting a meat free week for my little family, to raise awareness to how much we over consume meat and how easy and delicious it can be to cut down (or out). When I told Legoman what I was doing with our meals this week his first reaction was “I think I’m working late all week….”. Doubt he will be saying that after he sees what we are actually eating. Check out this for a delicious menu!! I’m hungry already!

MONDAY / shower or two 16

Baked Cheese Ravioli with Broccoli and Spinach

TUESDAY / a few showers 16

Space Curry

WEDNESDAY / shower or two 17

Veggie Fajitas

THURSDAY / shower or two 18

Cashew Curry

FRIDAY / shower or two 19

Frittata with toast and salad

SATURDAY / no weather forecast available

Pumpkin, Tomato and Lemon Baked Risotto

Tomorrow is my first alone shopping day in a couple of weeks and boy am I looking forward to it! Who would’ve thought grocery shopping could bring so much joy. I might even go and have a coffee. On. My. Own.

Misty Mountain Goodness

Today was a perfect Blue Mountains Sunday. Terrible for the tourists who’ve come for the view. Perfect for a lunch of hot pies from the bakery and spending the day at home with my little family.

The view from my driveway today.

The view from my driveway today.

Tonight’s dinner suited the weather perfectly. The baked risotto was delicious, with super tasty crunchy bits around the edge and a zing of lemon zest and fresh oregano on the top. The lamb loin chops grilled to yumminess. The asparagus crunchy with a slight tang of balsamic. I don’t think I came up for air until my plate was empty. Then I stood over the baking dish of rice eating more. That’s when I realised one important question was missing from my nightly rating. “Would I make this again?” Tonight, absolutely!

Baked Risotto

Baked Risotto

Asparagus

Asparagus

Oven Baked Risotto with Lamb Chops and Vegetables:

Affordability : EXCELLENT. Chops are a tasty and affordable cut of meat. Buy seasonal veg which will be tasty and cheap. And rice, a little goes a long way. I love rice!
Time Factor : MODERATE. ~30 minutes prep plus 45 minutes oven time. Thankyou Lego Man for continuing cooking while I put Possum to bed. The risotto was baked in a square cake/slice tin. Worked perfectly.
Complexity : LOW – MODERATE. I managed to time everything well tonight, but it would be the kind of meal where the risotto could sit in the oven a little longer, the chops could grill a little longer. You just don’t want over cooked veg.
Deliciousness : EXCELLENT. Simple tasty goodness. Lego Man brought chops back into my culinary life after we got engaged. Sure the first time he cooked them for me they may have caught on fire. But you can’t kill a chop with a bit of flame. It actually makes them taste better!
Mess : MODERATE. A few pots but dishes didn’t take too long after dinner.
Tummy Filling Factor : EXCELLENT. I piled Lego Man’s plate a little too much for him, but was not quite enough for my bottomless pit of a stomach.
Possum Friendly? MODERATE. She loves chops, and has already had risotto before. Will see if she likes asparagus tomorrow.

Would I make it again? Absolutely. This recipe is a keeper! I couldn’t find any farro today when I was shopping so I just used arborio rice. Next time I will try farro though (if I can find it!).

Baked Risotto with Chops and Veg

Baked Risotto with Chops and Veg

Freezer Surprise

Ah sweet freezer surprise. You are always welcome in my home. As I sat with my baby and patted her to sleep, my mind wandered to my stomach. And to the silence coming from the kitchen meant Lego Man wasn’t cooking up a solution to my quandry. The kitchen is not the natural habitat of Lego Man. Outdoors, yes. Man Cave, yes. Office, yes. But this week was a week of no plans. No recipes on the counter. No plan on the fridge. Back to old ways. Back to eating somewhere between 8 and 9pm. Thank goodness for freezer surprise.

And behind Door Number 1………..!

Stuffed Eggplant Mousaka and Tuna Pesto Pasta. Not often freezer surprise is a two course feast. In order for the eggplant to be defrosted we did need to press “Auto cook” on the microwave about 15 times. I remembered they weren’t fab first time round so added some things that would hopefully help. Salt, pepper and cheese. It helped enough to make it much easier to eat. I thought I had a photo of the meal for you but one was really out of focus and the other my finger is taking up half the photo… this is what happends when you’re a hungry mummy!

Thank goodness tonight is planning night.

The plan and weather is looking a bit like this:

MONDAY/ rain 21 

Baked Farro Risotto with Lamb Chops and Vegetables

TUESDAY/ early shower 22

Winter Veg and Tofu Korma with brown rice and quinoa

WEDNESDAY/ partly cloudy 26

Broccoli Crunch and Salmon with brown rice and quinoa

THURSDAY/ sunny 20

Grilled Chicken Salad with pineapple, macadamias and chilli (taste Magazine Jan 2014)

FRIDAY/ partly cloudy 17

Take away, freezer surprise or BBQ

SATURDAY/ weather forecast not available yet…

Take away, freezer surprise or BBQ

Thankyou to my facebook page (just search for pea fritters) for the baked risotto idea. I was trawling one of my favourite sites, 101 cookbooks, when I saw she had a baked farro risotto. Perfect! Thursday’s chicken salad is a dish I made a couple of weeks ago and it was amazing. Will write out the recipe for you later in the week.  I’m also hoping to make a Brown Butter Spice Loaf to get us through the move. It’s spicy buttery goodness.

No scale for tonight’s dinner sorry.

Though here is a cute photo of Possum’s happy feet while she ate her dinner of Possum Love Puffs, avocado and apple. She and I had a lovely time at baby wearing yoga today.

Happy Possum Feet

Happy Possum Feet