Pumpkin Recipe 2: Pumpkin Risotto

Pumpkin season is finally here and I am having the time of my life testing new recipes that myself and my family will love. So far I have made pumpkin spice granola and pumpkin chia seed pudding which were hits, both separately and mixed together. In the past I have made several pumpkin logs which are easier to make than the recipe portrays, and they are always a big hit at the dessert table. But this year I wanted to challenge myself to step outside of the norm and make a more savory pumpkin dish rather than the common, more dessert forward recipes that I tend to lean towards. You may remember awhile back I decided to try my hand at making mushroom risotto from scratch and it ended up being way less intimidating than I had worried it would be. Since it turned out to be a success I thought; why not make a pumpkin risotto? And let me just say, it was incredible!

I got the idea to make a pumpkin risotto from a recipe I came across for butternut squash risotto. Because I already knew the basics of making risotto from scratch, I was pretty confident I would be able to pull this off at least somewhat successfully. Since both pumpkin and butternut squash are gourds I figured I should be able to easily substitute one for the other. Although, I did choose to use canned pumpkin puree rather than peeling, deseeding and roasting a whole pumpkin. But if you are up to it, you can definitely buy a fresh pumpkin instead. Just look for a smaller pumpkin, not your typical Jack-o-lantern one. For best flavor and texture go with a sugar pumpkin. To roast the pumpkin, preheat your oven to 350°F. Cut in half, remove seeds, peel and cut into chunks. Place on a baking sheet, coat with olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until fork tender. Remove from the oven and mash until smooth.

Although everyone enjoyed the pumpkin risotto and I definitely plan on making it again this fall, there are a few downsides. The first being that most of the ingredients you will need are not common pantry staples. Arborio rice is not a common grain to keep in stock and a few, but not all, people may have a can of pumpkin puree and shallots already on hand. If not you will need to make a quick trip to the grocery store. The second down side is the longer cooking process. This is not a quick, throw together, weeknight meal. To properly cook the risotto it is best to add the broth 1 to 2 cups at a time, stir often, and allow to simmer until absorbed, then add another 1 to 2 cups. You will need to repeat this process until all of the broth has been added and the rice is al dente, which usually takes roughly 30 minutes. And because you will need to stir the rice often to make sure it does not begin to burn or stick to the pan, you will have to tend to the dish the whole time it is cooking. However, if you enjoy cooking and you have the time or perhaps you make this dish over the weekend, it is not as difficult to make as it may sound and it really is oh so delicious!

Pumpkin Risotto Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 Cup Pumpkin Puree
  • 3 Cups Vegetable broth
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 Shallot, Diced
  • 1 Cup Arborio Rice
  • 1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/2 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste
  • Italian Parsley to Garnish

Instructions:

In a large bowl mix together the pumpkin puree and vegetable broth and set aside. Place a large sauté pan or Dutch oven over medium heat, add olive oil, garlic, and shallots. Sauté until shallots are translucent and garlic is fragrant (about 3 minutes). Stir in Arborio rice to coat then pour in 1 to 2 cups of the pumpkin broth mixture. Stir often and simmer over medium-low heat until the rice absorbs most of the liquid. Continue adding in broth 1 to 2 cups at a time until rice is cooked to al dente. Add pumpkin pie spice, salt and pepper and stir in parmesan cheese until melted. Serve and top with parsley.

To make this more of a well rounded meal, I topped the pumpkin risotto with a sautéed mushroom mix and slices of baked chicken thighs. I prefer to sauté my mushrooms with garlic and a dash of balsamic vinegar or red wine. For the chicken thighs I used seasonings that would well complement and balance the pumpkin such as rosemary, cayenne, and cardamom. I used about a tablespoon of rosemary and 1/4 teaspoon each of cayenne and cardamom along with salt and pepper. Ever since our post, The Spices Collecting Dust, I have been trying to incorporate cardamom into more of my cooking. In that post it is explained that cardamom and cinnamon compliment each other well, and since I used pumpkin pie spice in the risotto I figured it would be a good opportunity to use cardamom. Next time I make this pumpkin risotto I plan to serve it alongside lamb because rosemary and cardamom are commonly used to season that meat and it is one of my husbands favorites.

Still craving more pumpkin recipes? Stay tuned as we wrap up our week with one last pumpkin dish perfect for fall.

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