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Culture Initiatives Food & Drink

World Vegetarian Day

Today is World Vegetarian Day. Originally founded by the North American Vegetarian Society in 1977, it’s now a global event promoting the many benefits of vegetarianism.

October is the perfect month for cooking vegetarian dishes as there is so much great seasonal produce to choose from – squash and pumpkins, mushrooms, leafy greens and much more. So, here’s a gem of a recipe, taken from the Bill’s cookbook, that’s just the ticket for a cosy Autumnal dish.

Bill’s Pumpkin, Chestnut and Cranberry Risotto

Serves 6


1.2kg pumpkin, quartered and sliced with skin on
2x springs of rosemary
3x springs of thyme
2-3 tbsp olive oil, plus more for roasting
1x shallot, diced
1x garlic clove, finely chopped
300g Arborio rice
100ml white wine
1.25l hot vegetable stock
200g vacuum-packed or fresh roasted chestnuts, broken into pieces
75g fresh, frozen or dried cranberries, roughly chopped
150g mascarpone cheese
150g Parmesan, grated


1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas mark 4.

2. Place the pumpkin, rosemary and thyme on a baking tray, add a good slug or two of olive oil and mix with your hands to ensure that everything is well coated in oil to stop it burning. Roast for 45 minutes or so until tender. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then remove the skin and cut the pumpkin into 1cm cubes.

3. In a large, heavy-based saucepan, gently fry the shallot and garlic in olive oil without colouring them. Turn the heat up, add the rice and stir until it looks glossy – about 3 minutes should do it. Turn the heat down again and add the white wine. Continue to stir until the wine is absorbed and then add the hot stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring constantly. Wait until each ladleful has been absorbed by the rice before adding the next – it’s a slow process, so you’ll probably be adding stock and stirring for about 20-30 minutes in total.

4. When you have about 500ml stock left, gently stir in the roasted pumpkin cubes and continue to add the stock ladle by ladle, stirring all the time. Before adding the last ladleful of stock, taste the rice to ensure it is cooked through (it should be tender with just a little bit of ‘bite’ in the middle). Stir in the chestnuts and cranberries and the last of the stock. Finally, once the chestnuts and cranberries are heated through and the last of the stock has been absorbed, add the mascarpone and 100g of the Parmesan and stir through. Serve immediately with the remaining Parmesan and some freshly ground black pepper sprinkled across the top.

You can find this recipe and many others in the Bill’s cookbook – Cook, Eat, Smile which is available to buy both in store and online.

Don’t feel like cooking? Find your nearest Bill’s here and we’ll do the hard work for you.