Virtual Pumpkin Party – Roasted Pumpkin Risotto with Crispy Prosciutto

Roasted Pumpkin Risotto with Crispy Prosciutto | My Blue&White Kitchen

I'm always fascinated by different food cultures around the world. How an ingredient that is so common in one corner of the world can be almost unknown or hard to come by in another. For me, fresh forest berries are no luxury, dill is a widely used and available herb, and baked goods are spiced with cinnamon and cardamom. However, I was probably a teenager when I had mung beans for the first time, I actually had my first oyster last weekend at The Cock (so good!), and I've never had grits. 

For many years, pumpkin was a rather unfamiliar vegetable for me. I don't remember ever having it at home. Pickled pumpkin was served at school lunch every now and then but I don't know anyone who liked it... It was always a challenge to identify whether those orange cubes at the salad bar were pickled pumpkin or canned peach (that would have been a lucky day). Because of my very limited experiences (except that horrible pickled kind) with this fall veggie, I didn't like it. Like at all.

Roasted Pumpkin Risotto with Crispy Prosciutto | My Blue&White Kitchen
Roasted Pumpkin Risotto with Crispy Prosciutto | My Blue&White Kitchen

Nowadays, I make sure to never say that I don't like an ingredient. I rather prefer to say that I haven't found it prepared in a way that suits my taste. So when I traveled around eastern Canada and the U.S. for a couple of months some years ago, I thought that all these people can't be wrong about pumpkins. I just need to continue to try different dishes and preparation methods. So I started my own "give pumpkin a chance"-campaign which included ordering a pumpkin dish whenever I saw it on a menu. And what should I say, it worked and turned me into a pumpkin lover.

Roasted Pumpkin Risotto with Crispy Prosciutto | My Blue&White Kitchen
Roasted Pumpkin Risotto with Crispy Prosciutto | My Blue&White Kitchen

Today, we are having a virtual pumpkin party around the blogosphere. Countless food bloggers are sharing delicious pumpkin recipes - my mouth waters when I read through all those recipe titles! To keep up with all this awesomeness, follow us with the hastag #virtualpumpkinparty. Also, a huge thank you to Sara of Cake Over Steak for organizing this event!

Some of my favorite #virtualpumpkinparty recipes include:

A Couple Cooks – Pumpkin Spice Almond Butter
Two Red Bowls – Pumpkin & Caramelized Onion Galette
I am a Food Blog – Roasted Pumpkin & Pork Stuffed Shells
Warm Vanilla Sugar – Dulce de Leche Pumpkin Ice Cream + Affogato
The Bojon Gourmet – Pumpkin Flatbread with Gruyère & Crispy Sage
le ju's d'orange – Lentil Stuffed Acorn Squash & Crispy King Oyster Bacon
Girl Versus Dough – Pumpkin Challah

Roasted Pumpkin Risotto with Crispy Prosciutto | My Blue&White Kitchen

I decided to make a bowl of comforting, lovely fall risotto. This right here is comfort food at its very best. It's like a warm hug. Oh and before one of you guys shouts "Hey, she's using butternut SQUASH instead of pumpkin!", I have to tell you that it was only when I did some research for this post that I learned that the word pumpkin means those round squash plants, like the ones you see around Halloween. So let's just pretend I'm Australian and that by "pumpkin" I mean all types of winter squash. Okay? Okay.

As the days are crisp, I find myself preparing risotto almost every week. For some reason this Italian classic seems to scare many home cooks, although there really is no reason to be scared. Risotto is easy to prepare as long as you follow a few important guidelines:

  • use specific risotto rice, such as Carnaroli or Arborio
  • always use warm stock, as cold stock will stop the cooking process, one ladleful at a time
  • stir it every now and then to get that creamy texture everybody looks for – however, there's no reason to stir it constantly

When you learn how to prepare a basic risotto, you'll have a whole world of delicious, comforting Italian goodness ahead of you! As Valentina of Hortus has done a great job in listing and explaining the main steps of any successful risotto, I'll not gonna list them here as well. I hope that you'll find the confidence to make risotto that suits the season and your personal preferences at any day of the week.

Roasted Pumpkin Risotto with Crispy Prosciutto | My Blue&White Kitchen

Roasted Pumpkin Risotto with Crispy Prosciutto

serves 4–6

You can use basically any winter squash. Personally, I like to use butternut squash or acorn squash. I prefer to use chicken stock, as I feel that it adds more flavor, but feel free to use vegetable stock instead. The butter at the very end is optional but makes this risotto feel extra special.

about 450 g (1 lb) winter squash, peeled, seeds and pulp removed, & cut into 1,5 cm/0,6" cubes
olive oil
fine sea salt & pepper
a small handful of thyme sprigs

2 tbsp olive oil
1 large shallot, chopped
300 g risotto rice, such as Carnaroli or Arborio
120 ml (½ cup) dry white wine
1,5 l (6 ⅓ cups) chicken stock
zest of 1 organic lemon
40 g finely grated parmesan, plus more to serve
50 g butter, cubed

5 slices prosciutto, cut in about 1 cm/0,4" pieces

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). In a baking pan, toss the squash cubes with just enough olive oil to coat the pieces completely. Salt and pepper and add thyme. Spread in a single layer. Roast for 30 to 40 minutes, or until cooked through and edges start to caramelize. Discard thyme stalks.

In a medium-sized frying pan, fry the prosciutto until crispy. Place on a sheet of kitchen paper to drain.

In a pot, bring the stock to a small simmer. Keep it warm over low heat.

Heat a medium-sized pot over low heat and cook the shallot in olive oil until soft and transluscent. Turn the heat to medium and add the rice. Toast for about 2 minutes, or until it turns translucent, stirring constantly. Add wine and stir until absorbed. Turn the heat back to low.

Add a ladleful of warm stock, stir, and wait until it's completely absorbed before adding the next ladleful. Repeat to add stock one ladleful at a time while stirring every now and then. Continue until the rice is al dente and the risotto is oozy. This will usually take 15 to 18 minutes. Should you run out of stock, continue with hot water.

Take the pot off the heat. Add the roasted pumpkin cubes. Stir in the lemon zest, parmesan and butter. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Pop the lid on and let rest for 2 minutes before serving. You should now be rewarded with a creamy, oozy risotto.

Serve topped with crispy prosciutto and grated parmesan.

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Fall Vibes – Plum Galettes

Plum Galettes | My Blue&White Kitchen

Fall is the time for new beginnings. Kids go back to school and their parents go back to work; thousands of students start at colleges and at universities eager to get to know new people, to learn, and to dream big. As nature is getting ready to face winter, we're getting back to the everyday routines or are just creating new ones. 

For me, this fall started with a new full-time job. I've really enjoyed my first weeks, although I've often feeled rather exhausted when getting back home. It's been a challenge to manage both work, the blog, and my free-time. It has meant to be kinder to myself, to endure unfinished projects, and the fact that I can't be at more than one place at a time. As much as I've liked my new work and getting to know my colleagues, I've also got into decorating my office (it's one of the most fun parts, right?). I'm still looking for a picture to hang on the wall and am dreaming of a succulent terrarium, one of RK design's gorgeous wall hangings, and/or a minimalistic swag wreath. But still, I think that already a pot or two of something green really makes the whole room feel cozy and welcoming. They fill the space with life.

Plum Galettes | My Blue&White Kitchen

Weekends are more important than ever. They're spend loading up batteries and forgetting about work stuff. I've spent as much time as possible in the woods and in the kitchen, as those are the places where I find peace. Those are the places where I feel connected to myself and to my surroundings. When I'm in the woods, the words of Terry Tempest Williams come to my mind: "To be whole. To be complete. Wildness reminds us what it means to be human, what we are connected to rather than what we are separated from." That women. If you haven't read her work, you should.

Plum Galettes | My Blue&White Kitchen
Plum Galettes | My Blue&White Kitchen

I've enjoyed roaming in the woods but sadly fall harvest doesn't look that good. Lingonberries are plenty and there are still wild blueberries to be picked. However, although chanterelles were plenty in summer, the woods are now short of mushrooms. I really hope that this will change soon! Maybe the weather will be more favorable in September and October; there are so many wild mushroom recipes that I'm eager to test and possibly share with you guys. Well, it's raining today, so I still have hope ;) Mushroom foraging trips are one of the best parts of fall.

At least there are plums (not in the woods but anyway)! Those juicy, delicious fellas are always worth waiting for; Zwetschgendatschi, plums with portwine, Kaiserschmarrn with plum compote (I hope to share the recipe with you this fall/early winter), rice porridge with caramelized, cinnamon-spiced plums... Gosh, how I cherish this season! So today, I want to share a recipe that's close to my heart. This galette is a long-time favorite; I've baked it every year for at least a decade. I still remember how I used to come back home from school only to find leftovers on the kitchen counter. I would reheat a slice and enjoy it with a dollop of whipped cream. It's a simple galette with a short ingredient list and easy to follow steps. The taste, however, is decadent. It's the kind of recipe I come back to again and again, that I share with family and friends, and that will surely be handed down through generations.

Please feel free to share your favorite plum recipes in the comment section below! One can never have too many.

Plum Galettes | My Blue&White Kitchen

P.S. I did a fun interview with the German Food & Travel magazine Speisen + Reisen this summer. I feel honoured to be featured in a 4-page-long (!) article as well as being able to share 5 recipes. The issue is out now, so be sure to get your copy! *crazyhappy*

Plum Galettes

makes 6 small or 1 large galette

for the crust
220 g (4 dl; 1  cups) all-purpose flour + more to dust
1 large pinch of fine sea salt
2 tbsp granulated sugar
150 g cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
4 tbsp ice cold water

for the filling
400 g plums, cut into 6-8 wedges
45 g (½ dl; 3  tbsp) granulated sugar

powdered sugar, to finish
whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, to serve

To make the crust
In a medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, salt, and sugar. With your fingers, quickly rub the butter into the dry ingredients until well incorporated and crumbly. The dough should now resemble coarse bread crumbs with plenty of pea-sized pieces of butter remaining. Add water gradually just until the dough holds together when pinched. Work as fast as possible to avoid over-working the dough. Alternatively, you can make the dough with a pastry cutting tool or in a food processor.

Form the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for at least an hour.

To assemble and bake
Preheat the oven to 180°C (355°F). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

Lightly dust the chilled dough with flour. If you're making small galettes, cut the dough into 6 equally-sized portions. Roll the dough out on a well-floured work surface into about 3 mm (0.1") thick circles. If the dough cracks, don't worry; just pinch it back together. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Arrange the plum wedges in the centre and be sure to leave a 4–5cm (1.5–2") border. Fold up the edges.

Bake on the middle rack for about 40 minutes, or until edges are golden brown and the filling bubbles.

Dust with powdered sugar and serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. I always reheat any leftovers; the flavors are so much better and the galette seems to simply melt in your mouth.

Plum Galettes | My Blue&White Kitchen

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Nordic Oven Pancake with Wild Blueberries

Nordic Oven Pancake | My Blue&White Kitchen

The last couple of weeks have been busy. To be more exact, I've been busy with life trying to spend as much time outdoors and with friends as possible (now that the weather finally turned as it's supposed to be in summer) and avoiding spending time on the computer or the phone. Summer is prescious and short here, so it always feels like one must make the most of these long days - we'll all miss them once darkness returns.

Nordic Oven Pancake | My Blue&White Kitchen
Nordic Oven Pancake | My Blue&White Kitchen

Picking a highlight of my summer isn't easy, but as some of you may have seen on Instagram, I spent a week in Finnish Lapland and Norway in the end of July. We had planned to hike the 55-km-long Hetta-Pallas trail but the weather was forecasted to be extremely rainy, so that we changed our plans on the very last minute and decided to head further north. Yeah, if there's one thing that I (once again) learned from this trip, it's that things don't always go as planned. But why should they? Often unplanned stops in life are the very best ones. And let me tell you, this trip was no exception. So after spending a day in the Pallas' fells, we drove to Saana, a glorious fell located only a couple of kilometres from the Norwegian border. The hike to the top of the Saana fell wasn't an easy one but definitely worth it. And oh Norwegia - it left us speechless and thankful for all the moments we had there. I've been traveling the world for quite a lot and feel absolutely confident saying that the scenery in Norway is one of the most stunning I've ever seen. I can't wait to discover this country even more.

Nordic Oven Pancake | My Blue&White Kitchen
Nordic Oven Pancake | My Blue&White Kitchen

Another highlight of this summer (every summer to be more exact) have been the countless hours spent picking Nordic berries in the forest. Especially wild blueberries, called bilberries, have grown in abundance this year. I've freezed some for later use, made jam, used them in baked goods, and enjoyed them both plain and as toppings for yogurt, ice cream, etc. These blue fellas are full of flavor and one can get quite addicted to them.

Today, I want to share a true childhood favorite with you: Nordic Oven Pancake. It's basically our version of a Dutch baby, baked on a baking sheet instead of a pan. I like when the center is barely set and still custardy making it an unresistable treat. Oven pancake is perfect when you're too lazy to make crêpes that require much more effort and time; the oven pancake batter is super easy and quick to make and your oven does most of the work. As the pancake itself isn't very sweet, the toppings are what truly makes this dish shine. You can top your slice with whatever you like - fresh berries and/or homemade jam are always a good choice but I also love to enjoy a slice with nothing more than granulated sugar. If you want to get wild and deliscious, add some whipped cream or an ice cream scoop or two.

Wishing you all wonderful late summer days! Enjoy.

Nordic Oven Pancake

makes 1 sheet (size: 39x32,5cm / 15,4"x12,8", measured from the bottom of the pan, excluding rims)

This is a true summer favorite with a custardy center. Be super careful when placing the sheet in the oven making sure not to splash any batter!

1 liter (4 ¼ cups) whole milk
3 tbsp granulated sugar
¾ tsp fine sea salt
4 eggs (European M; U.S. L)
30 g (2 tbsp) butter, melted
250 g (4 ½ dl; 2 cups minus 1 ⅔ tbsp) all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F). Line a rimmed baking sheet (at least 2 cm / ¾" deep) with parchment paper.

In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the milk, sugar, salt, eggs, and melted butter until well combined. Gradually add flour and mix until smooth. Let rest for about 30 minutes.

Pour batter into prepared baking sheet. The sheet will be filled to the rim with batter, so be extra careful when placing the sheet in the oven. Bake on the middle rack for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown with darker spots here and there and the bottom is golden brown. The batter will rise in the oven (and look like the Ural Mountains) but falls quickly after being removed from the oven.

Let cool down before serving, so that the center sets proberly. Serve cold or at room temperature with toppings of your choice.

Nordic Oven Pancake | My Blue&White Kitchen

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Celebrating Whole Foods – Quinoa Salad with Grilled Summer Vegetables & Harissa

Quinoa Salad with Grilled Summer Vegetables & Harissa | My Blue&White Kitchen

I love cookbooks, they're my weakness. I read them like other people read novels; at the breakfast table, on the beach, before I go to bed, and everywhere in between. There's an ever-changing list of cookbooks I need to buy. It's a real challenge as new, exciting cookbooks are published almost every month and there are still a bunch of classics that I'm short of.

A good cookbooks is not only a selection of delicious recipes. Yes, sometimes mouthwatering and genius recipes alone will do but that really is the exception. As the market is overflowing with cookbooks these days, only the very best survive. I look for a strong author's voice, glorious photography, inspiring recipes, and preferably matte paper (yeah, I have a strong opinion on that one too).

The food world was shaken by excitement when Amy Chaplin published her book At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen: Celebrating the Art of Eating Well in the US last fall. There were blog posts (last minute update: I absolutely love this post from Kathryn of London Bakes!), IG pics of dishes prepared from Amy's book (a special thank you to Sonja of Dagmar's Kitchen for all the inspiration), and a James Beard Award. There was also that spicy chickpea stew Lindsey of dolly and oatmeal blogged about and that I found myself preparing and eating every other week or so. I knew that this was a book that ranked really high on my cookbook wishlist. Needless to say, I was beyond excited when I got an email from Amy a couple of months ago. Would I be interested in a copy of her book that was about to be (finally) published in the UK and Australia in June? Are you kidding me? Yes!

It's hard to live up to anyone's expectations and I must confess that because of all that hype around the book my expectations were pretty high. Amy's book, however, won my heart from the minute I ripped open the mailing box. This is not only a cookbook but a guide. A guide to living and eating well, consciously, and sustainably. Amy guides you through her eating philosophy, her pantry, and basic ways to prepare whole foods. It's all done in an inspiring and positive way; she isn't judging. You're simply inspired to adopt her ideas and incorporate her way of cooking and eating into your everyday life.

The book is filled with glorious looking, delicious vegetarian recipes. At this point, I must pinpoint how well Johnny Miller has been able to capture the beauty of this book; his photography is one the reasons why this book is so fascinating. Amy has a talent of combining different flavors and textures into an exciting dish. Although most of her recipes are vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free, they don't feel like they're lacking of anything. In the last couple of weeks, I've prepared several dishes: red lentil soup (so simple yet full of flavor! definitely going to include it into our menu when I'm going on a hiking trip to Lapland with some friends later this month), quinoa betroot salad (went totally crazy over it), and beetroot chickpea cakes (yes, please) to name a few. And I'm still looking for more! Cherry coconut granola, black sesame flaxseed dressing, strawberry rose kanten, aubergine curry... Yeah, I'm excited and inspired. So inspired.

It was hard to choose which recipe to share with you here on the blog. So many delicious options! As the book's salad section was especially appealing to me, I decided to share a summery salad with you guys. This quinoa salad was the first dish I made from the book once I got it (on the very first day I may add). I love all the different textures and flavors, the fact that it's straightforward to make (don't be scared by the multiple components), keeps well for hours or even a day or two, and is perfect to share with a group of friends or to take to a picnic or to the beach. I made a few small changes to the original recipe: I chose to grill the veggies on the grill instead of roasting them in the oven and left out olives because of personal preferences. Amy has an excellent, super easy and quick to make harissa paste recipe in her book but you can certainly use store-bought harissa as well. However, I strongly encourage you to make your own.

Hope you're enjoying some sunny days on the beach...preferably with a large serving of this salad. Let's all celebrate a bowl of whole food goodness!

Quinoa Salad with Grilled Summer Vegetables & Harissa

Slightly adapted from At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen: Celebrating the Art of Eating Well by Amy Chaplin

serves 4 to 6

You can either grill the vegetables on the grill or roast them in the oven. I've included instructions for both methods below.

In the recipe, you're asked to roll cut the zucchinis. This is a really great cutting technique resulting in nice, interesting looking pieces. So how does it work? You simply slice off pieces at a 45-degree angle and make a quarter turn between each cut. Notice that the cut is always made in the same place. You can check out this tutorial from Saveur.


2 zucchinis, roll cut into 2,5 cm (1") pieces
2 red bell peppers, deseeded & cut into 2,5 cm (1") pieces
300 g (5 dl; 2 cups) cherry tomatoes, large ones cut in half
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
fine sea salt
1 red onion, cut into ~1,5 cm (½") wedges
720 g (10 dl; 4 cups) cooked white or red quinoa, cooled (about 170 g / 1 cup uncooked)
5 ⅓ tbsp (⅓ cup) harissa
40 g (2 ½ dl; 1 cup) chopped flat-leaf parsley
140 g feta, drained & crumbled

If you choose to grill the vegetables on the grill, prepare the grill. If you're roasting the vegetables in the oven, preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

Put zucchinis, bell peppers, and cherry tomatoes into a bowl and toss with 3 tbsp of olive oil and ½ tsp salt. Mix until everything is well coated. Grill vegetables on the grill until tender and grill marks appear. Alternatively, divide vegetables between baking sheets and spread out into a single layer. Roast for 25 minutes. Stir, rotate trays, and roast for 10 more minutes, or until browning. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

To caramelize the onion, warm 2 tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add onion wedges and sauté for about 5 minutes. Lower the heat a bit and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring every now and then, or until soft and wonderfully caramelized. Add a pinch of salt and set aside to cool.

Put quinoa into a large bowl and fluff with a fork. Add harissa paste and mix well. Add the grilled vegetables, caramelized onions, and parsley. Toss to combine. Season to taste with more salt. Top with crumbled feta and serve. 

The salad keeps well in the fridge for a couple of days. Just bring it back to room temperature before serving.

Quinoa Salad with Grilled Summer Vegetables & Harissa | My Blue&White Kitchen

Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen from the publisher, Jacqui Small LLP, free of charge. However, I wasn't compensated for this review. As always, all opinions are my own.

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Honey Granola with Summer Berries

Honey Granola with Summer Berries | My Blue&White Kitchen

Midsummer is all about light and flowers. That said, how perfect is this recipe to share around this time of the year? I had the honour of being a guest at Suus' Morning Rituals series on her fabulous food blog Food Bandits. Morning Rituals is one of those food blog series I look most forward to, so it was a real joy to become a part of that international blog and breakfast love. I talked about my breakfast favorites, how I would like to be a morning person, although I'm not, coffee, and shared the recipe for honey granola. You can read the talk I had with Suus here.

This granola recipe was created out of a longing for a simple yet tasty granola that would be lovely with summer's most wonderful berries and fruit. I wanted a granola that would let the summer produce be the star of the bowl. During the colder months, I like to add all kind of spices, nuts, seeds, and dried berries to my granola, so that the granola can easily stand on its own. In summer, however, I look for more delicate flavors.

Honey works great as a sweetener and is a nice alternative to maple syrup that I use often when sweetening homemade granola. Elderflowers are the essence of summer and I just can't believe that elderflower trees are so very hard to find here in Finland. It's not fair, folks! Out of frustration, I've used elderflower syrup a lot lately. I've marinated strawberries in it, made drinks with elderflower syrup and prosecco, and decided to use it in this granola as well. Should you not be able to find elderflower syrup at your local grocery store, look for it at Ikea. I opted for almonds only but you could certainly use whatever nuts you like the most. I'm a sucker for millet in my granola, as I like its texture when toasted; it adds something exciting to the granola mix. Should you not be into millet or don't have it at hand, leave it out or substitute it with seeds of your choice.

Honey Granola with Summer Berries

makes 1 sheet

This granola is naturally gluten-free. However, look for certified gluten-free oats, as oats are often contaminated with gluten, for example during harvesting, milling, or packaging.

200 g (5 dl; 2 cups) rolled oats
150 g (2 ½ dl; 1 cup) almonds, roughly chopped
55 g (4 tbsp) millet
¾ tsp fine sea salt
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 tbsp elderflower syrup
1 ½ dl (2/3 cup) honey

plain yogurt, to serve
summer berries or fruit, to serve
optional: honey or agave nectar, to serve

Preheat oven to 150°C (300°F). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine the oats, almonds, millet, and salt. In another, small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, elderflower syrup, and honey until throughly combined. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix.

Spread the granola mixture evenly onto the lined baking sheet. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until lightly golden. The granola will get crispy as it cools. Stir the granola mixture and flip the sheet half way through. Keep a close look at the granola, as honey tends to brown quickly. Mix the granola mixture several times during the last 10 minutes of baking, as the granola at the edges tends to brown quicker than in the middle.

Let the granola cool completely before storing in an airtight container, such as a mason jar.

Enjoy with plain yogurt and top with your favorite summer berries.

Honey Granola with Summer Berries | My Blue&White Kitchen

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