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Bean and Pumpkin Risotto

ingredients

serves 6.
2 1/4 lb (500 g) dried large white kidney beans or butter beans
2 lb (900 g) pumpkin flesh (net peeled trimmed weight)
2 vegetable or chicken stock cubes
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 1/2 oz (70 g) butter
1 lb (500 g) long-grain rice
3 1/2 fl oz (100 ml) dry vermouth or dry white white
5 fl oz (150 ml) milk
2 1/2 oz (70 g) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
salt and pepper

method

1. Soak the beans overnight or for about 12 hours in plenty of cold water. Drain in a sieve, rinse well under running cold water and remove their thin seed cases, discarding all these skins. There is no really quick way to do this, but spreading them out between 2 clean cloths and rubbing to break and loosen the skins will help.

2. Place the beans in a very large, heavy-bottomed saucepan with 4 1/2 pints (2 1/2 litres) water and bring slowly to the boil; cover, leaving a gap for the steam to escape, and simmer gently for 1 hour.

3. Dice the pumpkin flesh. When the beans have been simmering for 1 hour, add the diced pumpkin and simmer for a further 1 hour, by which time the beans should be very tender. Use a hand-held electric beater to turn the contents of the saucepan into a very thin puree, or put through a vegetable mill with a fine-gauge disc fitted.

4. Add the stock cubes, stir well and bring to a gentle boil over a low heat while stirring with a wooden spoon. Set aside. Fry the onion very gently in 1 oz (30 g) of the butter for 10 minutes, stirring now and then; add the rice, cook while stirring for 1 1/2 minutes over a slightly higher heat, pour in the vermouth or wine and continue cooking until it has completely evaporated.

5. Add about 8 fl oz (225 ml) of the pumpkin and bean puree and continue cooking, uncovered, stirring occasionally and adding more of the puree as the rice cooks and absorbs the moisture.

6. After 10 minutes, add the hot milk and stir. Cook for a further 4 minutes, or until the rice is tender but still firm; this risotto should be very moist.

7. Remove from the heat, add salt to taste, the remaining, solid butter and the Parmesan cheese and stir gently into the risotto. Season with freshly ground pepper, sprinkle with the parsley and serve. Any remaining puree can be used in vegetable soups.

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