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Roasted Sweet Potato and Zucchini Risotto

Rich and creamy, the classic risotto is elevated with the addition of courgettes softened in olive oil with fresh basil and garlic, cubes of roasted sweet potato and a generous grating of smoked scamorza mozzarella cheese.

From the book

Theo Randall

Introduction

Sweet potatoes are very much like a squash in flavour but are a bit drier in texture. This risotto is creamy and sweet, with the added flavour of smoked scamorza, which makes the whole bowlful utterly delicious. It is finished off with some brown butter and sage, which always goes so nicely with squash or sweet potatoes.

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Ingredients

500g (1 lb 2oz) sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into roughly 2cm (¾in) cubes
6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp thyme leaves
1 garlic clove, sliced
4 basil leaves
3 medium courgettes (zucchini), sliced into 5mm (¼in) rounds
100g (3½oz) unsalted butter
8 sage leaves
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 red onion, finely chopped
350g (12oz) Carnaroli risotto rice
100ml (3½fl oz) dry white wine
1.5 litres (50fl oz) hot vegetable stock (see page 19 of Verdura for homemade)
75g (2½oz) parmesan, grated
100g (3½oz) smoked scamorza, grated
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F/Gas 4.

Toss the sweet potatoes in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, the thyme, and some salt and pepper. Tip out onto a roasting tray lined with baking paper, then cover tightly with foil and roast for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and check the sweet potatoes are cooked with a sharp knife; if there is no resistance, they are cooked. Return to the oven for 5 minutes, then set aside.

Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to a hot, medium saucepan, with the garlic, basil, courgettes and a good pinch of salt. Cover with a lid and cook over a medium heat for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and cook for a further 5 minutes so the courgettes become soft and a little caramelized. Take off the heat.

To make the brown butter, add 75g (2½oz) of the butter to a hot, small saucepan, add the sage and cook over a very low heat for 10 minutes, until the sage turns crispy and the butter is a nutty brown colour. Remove the crispy sage and place on some kitchen paper. Take the brown butter off the heat and keep to one side.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a hot, large, straight-sided saucepan and add the celery and red onion. Cook for 3 minutes, then add the rice and cook for a further 3 minutes so the rice absorbs the olive oil and goes translucent. Add the wine and cook until it is absorbed, then start adding the vegetable stock, a ladleful at a time, so the rice is always just covered. Continue for 10 minutes over a medium heat so the rice is bubbling away.

Add the cooked courgettes and enough stock so the risotto seems very wet, and cook for another 4 minutes. Add the roasted sweet potatoes and cook for another 2 minutes, then add the parmesan and smoked scamorza and the remaining butter. Stir vigorously for 2 minutes so the cheeses melt and the risotto becomes really emulsified. Check the seasoning, place a lid on the pan, take off the heat and leave for 2 minutes.

Take off the lid, give the risotto a good stir and serve in warm bowls, with a drizzle of the brown butter and some crispy sage leaves on top. Finish off with black pepper.

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