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TIP OF THE DAY: Pumpkin Risotto

pumpkin-risotto-andrea-watman-230
Pumpkin Risotto. Photo courtesy Zabars.
 

The Italian mother of a friend always serves pumpkin lasagna and pumpkin risotto at Thanksgiving, along with the turkey. In addition to combining traditions, they offer a bonus: enticing vegetarian options for people who won’t eat the turkey.

This pumpkin risotto recipe is from Zabars’ late, great creative director, Andrea Watman. For a vegetarian dish, use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.

Andrea makes the recipe memorable by serving individual portions in scooped-out small pumpkins, but you can go the traditional route and bring the risotto to the table in one serving bowl—or scoop out one larger, prettier squash like a buttercup or kabocha (see the photo below and check out the different types of squash).

In terms of the pumpkin cut up for the risotto, Andrea suggests that you can use a jack-o-lantern pumpkin, cheese pumpkin pumpkin or butternut squash. (But for pies and desserts, The New York Times’ Melissa Clark tested different pumpkins and squash and gave a hands-down recommendation to butternut or acorn squash. Here’s the full article.)

 

The risotto can be made as a main course, you can add mushrooms and even sausage meat (for a non-vegetarian version). Andrea’s recipe is easy to make. “Get ready to take a bow,” says Andrea, “because this is a crowd pleaser.”

Here’s a more complicated pumpkin risotto recipe from Pom Wonderful, which uses pomegranate juice and arils.

RECIPE: PUMPKIN RISOTTO

Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 6 small pumpkins (for serving)
  • 1 medium pumpkin
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Optional: 1 cup mushrooms, sliced/diced
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 5 cups of chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • Garnish: 4 ounces shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • Optional garnish: fresh sage leaves, whole or chiffonade
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 325°F.

    2. NEATLY CUT the tops off of the six serving pumpkins; remove the seeds and fibrous strands. Place the serving pumpkins and the pumpkin tops on a baking sheet. Lightly coat the inner flesh with olive oil (we used olive oil spray). Bake for 15 minutes; the skin will begin to wrinkle. Don’t overbake the pumpkins or they won’t hold their shape.

    3. BRING a large pot of salted water to boil. Cut up the medium pumpkin, remove the seeds and fibrous strands and peel the outer skin with a vegetable peeler. Cut into cubes and add to the boiling water. Cook as you would potatoes for mashing, about 20 minutes.

    4. DRAIN well; mash with 1 stick of butter. Do not add salt or pepper.

     

    pumpkin-risotto-berlucchi-61-franciacorta-230sq

    You can use a larger squash such as kabocha (shown) as a serving bowl. Photo courtesy Berlucchi ‘61 Franciacorta.

     

    5. HEAT the olive oil in a large, heavy saucepan and sauté the chopped onion, garlic and mushrooms until tender. Do not brown.

    6. ADD the rice and stir with a wood spoon until the rice is coated. Then add 1 cup of white wine and 2 cups of stock, stirring continuously (or as often as possible) until all liquid is absorbed. Add the remaining wine and 1 cup more of stock and keep stirring. Once the liquid is absorbed add 1 more cup of stock, stir until absorbed and add the remaining stock if necessary. You want the rice to be cooked but not mushy.

    7. REMOVE from the heat and stir in the mashed pumpkin. Return the pan to the heat and stir in the remaining stick of butter and Parmesan. The rice will be almost creamy. Taste, and if you need to add salt or pepper, do it now.

    8. SPOON into the small pumpkins or a serving dish. Top with pumpkin seeds and optional sage; serve immediately.
      




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