Walnut & stilton orzotto with roasted squash & Port sauce

Walnut & stilton orzotto with roasted squash & Port sauce

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(6 ratings)

Prep: 40 mins Cook: 2 hrs Plus overnight soaking

A challenge

Serves 6

MasterChef finalist, Alex Rushmer, shows us how to create a show-stopping vegetarian starter for the festive season

Nutrition and extra info

  • Vegetarian

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal511
  • fat34g
  • saturates12g
  • carbs33g
  • sugars15g
  • fibre3g
  • protein10g
  • salt0.64g


    For the orzotto

    • 100g walnut halves
    • 500ml vegetable stock
    • 1 tsp sunflower oil
      Sunflower oil

      Sunflower oil

      Sunflower oil is made from pressing sunflower seeds and extracting the oil. It's usually…

    • 25g unsalted butter, plus a knob extra
    • 1½ banana shallots, finely chopped



      Related to the onion (as opposed to being a younger version of it), shallots grow in clusters at…

    • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
    • 100g pearl barley
    • 125ml champagne



      A sparkling wine and name of the most northerly wine region in France. Most Champagnes are a…

    • 85g stilton or vegetarian alternative, cubed, plus extra to serve



      A true glory of British cheese-making that has much controversy about its origins, how it's…

    For the port sauce

    • ½ banana shallot, finely chopped



      Related to the onion (as opposed to being a younger version of it), shallots grow in clusters at…

    • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
      Sunflower oil

      Sunflower oil

      Sunflower oil is made from pressing sunflower seeds and extracting the oil. It's usually…

    • 4 juniper berries, lightly crushed
    • 5cm cinnamon stick, broken in half
    • 2 star anise
      Star anise

      Star anise

      star an-eese

      Star anise is one of the central spices in Chinese cooking. It has a strong anise flavour, with…

    • 5 cloves



      A clove is the dry, unopened flower bud of the tropical myrtle tree family used to flavour a…

    • 1 black or green cardamom pod
    • pinch grated nutmeg



      One of the most useful of spices for both sweet and savoury

    • 200ml vegetable stock
    • 300ml tawny port
    • 1 tbsp redcurrant jelly
    • 25g unsalted butter

    For the squash

    • 25g butter



      Butter is a dairy product made from separating whole milk or cream into fat and…

    • 1 small butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into 1cm dice
    • 25g walnut halves
    • pinch ground cinnamon



      A fragrant spice which comes from the inner bark of a tropical tree. When dried, it curls into…

    • 1 tsp light muscovado sugar
    • small watercress leaves, to serve



      With deep green leaves, and crisp, paler stems, watercress is related to mustard and is one of…


    1. Soak the 100g walnuts in water overnight. Strain through a sieve, put in a pan and cover with 300ml water. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 15 mins. Strain again, return to the pan with the stock and bring to the boil. Pour into a blender, blend on medium for 5 mins, then strain back into the pan. Set aside until step 4.

    2. Make the sauce: soften the shallot in the oil over a gentle heat for 10 mins. Stir in the spices and stock, increase the heat and reduce by three-quarters. Pour in the Port and gently simmer for 20 mins. Strain into a clean pan and reduce over a high heat until thickened, about 10 mins. Set aside. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.

    3. For the squash, heat the butter in an ovenproof pan. Fry the squash for 3-4 mins, then stir in the walnuts with the cinnamon, sugar and a pinch of salt. Roast for 15-20 mins or until tender. Keep warm.

    4. Meanwhile, make the orzotto. Warm the walnut stock. Heat the oil and 25g butter in a large, deep pan, add the shallots and soften for 10 mins, but don’t colour. Stir in the garlic and cook 3-4 mins more. Remove from the pan, set aside, then wipe the pan clean. Increase the heat, tip in the barley and toast for 2-3 mins, keeping it moving so it doesn’t burn. Quickly stir the shallots and garlic back into the pan with the barley, then pour in the Champagne. Stir well and add a ladleful of warm walnut stock. Lower the heat a little and keep adding stock when the orzotto looks ‘thirsty’, stirring occasionally to prevent it from sticking to the pan. (You’ll need about 500ml stock in total. Make up the amount with vegetable stock if necessary.) Cook until the barley is tender – 35-40 mins (you have a lot more grace with this than with rice, as it retains its bite for longer).

    5. When cooked, add another half ladle of stock (to stop the orzotto from thickening as it cools), then stir in the stilton and a knob of butter. Stir and season, remembering stilton can be very salty.

    6. To serve, reheat the sauce, adding a little more Port if it is too thick, then stir in the redcurrant jelly until dissolved and finish with the butter. Spoon some sauce over each plate and top with a few spoonfuls of orzotto. Garnish with the roasted squash and walnut halves, a few small pieces of stilton and leaves.

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    Comments, questions and tips

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    Alessio Golfetto's picture
    Alessio Golfetto
    1st Apr, 2020
    well done for using pearl barley, most of the other recipes in the UK wrongly use orzo pasta
    24th Dec, 2015
    It doesn't explain the strain through a sieve properly I don't think? Are we straining and discarding the walnuts? If but what's the point of the strain, if so the stock doesn't taste of walnut enough? Anyone who's done this if they can shed some light for me please it'd be much appreciated.
    12th Oct, 2014
    This is a tremendous recipe. I substituted a larger quantity of canaroli rice and some white wine instead of the champers and it makes a terrific risotto. The port sauce is a real winner and I bet it goes well with game. As others have said, it's a bit of an effort but well worth it.
    20th Oct, 2012
    Made this for Christmas day starter and it went down a treat. Took a lot of effort but very well worth it!
    2nd Jan, 2011
    TOTALLY FANTASTIC!! I'm always on the look out for Michelin style dishes I can cook at home and this is one of them! Don't compromise on any of the ingredients or it won't be the same. Two of us cooked this dish which helped to speed up the process. Recommend making the sauce ahead, and you can substitue wine for champagne. Don't forget once you have set aside the sauce (step two), that you will need to add extra stock to make up to 500ml (step 4) or you won't have enough stock to cook the orzotto. A truely impressive meal - 2 shared as a mian reather than starter for 6, but very rich!!!
    29th Nov, 2010
    Great recipe. But please he's Alex not Alan!
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