Risotto has this undeserved reputation for being finicky, and I’m not sure where it comes from. People seem to have this idea that risotto needs to be stirred constantly, that it takes forever to make, that it’s essentially impossible to create outside of a restaurant kitchen.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, it takes some attention, but no more so than any number of dishes I can name — macaroni and cheese, for example, or curry. Saute the onions, toast the rice in the pan, then just add broth and stir just enough to keep the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add some cheese and the accoutrements of your choice, and you’re pretty much good to go.
In this case, to finish off our two weeks (two weeks!) of pumpkin recipes, I used what was left of my little sugar pie pumpkin to make a fall-inspired risotto. The pumpkin adds a little creaminess and allows you to cut down on the cheese, while the sage and thyme make sure you know it’s fall. It’s also a great vegetarian entree or side dish, for those of you looking for your next Meatless Monday.
The trickiest part is recognizing when the rice is done, and when it’s overdone. During the last 10 minutes or so of cooking, you’ll want to (carefully) taste the risotto. When the rice is fully cooked through but not yet mushy, it’s done — the risotto will be creamy but won’t be like overcooked oatmeal. There’s a fine line, but I have confidence you can handle it.
- 3 cups fresh pumpkin, peeled and chopped
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 4-6 cups vegetable broth
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1 Tbsp fresh sage
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toss pumpkin with 1 Tbsp olive oil and salt and pepper to taste, then spread on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast for 30-40 minutes, or until very tender. Remove from oven. Take about 2/3 of the pumpkin and quickly puree or mash with a food processor or a fork; set aside both puree and chunks.
- Meanwhile, heat the remaining olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and sautee until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add rice and cook, stirring, until the rice makes a distinct “clicking” sound against the pan. Add white wine and stir, then lower heat to medium-low and let simmer until the wine is almost all absorbed.
- Add broth one half-cup at a time, stirring after each addition and every few moments or so. I was able to take the dog out quickly during one interval, if that tells you anything. Your rice is almost done when the grains have a tiny bit of bite to them, but don’t crunch. You’ll use at least 4 cups of broth, and it should take no less than half an hour.
- When rice is almost done, stir in your pumpkin puree, pumpkin chunks, Parmesan cheese, sage, and thyme. Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed. Allow to cook for a few minutes more, or until rice is done and pumpkin is heated through.
- Serve immediately. If you have leftovers, they can be reheated with additional broth to restore texture.