I guess it’s inevitable for pumpkins to show up everywhere at this time of year. Pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin puree, pumpkin scones, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin muffins, etc. I’d like to say, “I’ve had enough already!” and ignore this crazy hype, but, to be honest, I love pumpkin too much to completely ignore it. Pumpkin spiced lattes at Starbucks are my guilty pleasure at this time of year, and every morning I mix in a tablespoon or so of pumpkin pie spice into the coffee grinds for a warm fall wake-up cup of coffee. And, I’ll admit that, while looking at all of the bookmarks on my Google Reader in, say, July, the pumpkin recipes pop out and scream at me, but I feel like it’s my job to resist until fall. That’s what everyone else does, right?
Right. So, when deciding what to make recently after craving pumpkin like crazy, I decided what I wanted to make was Pumpkin Risotto.
Risotto! Scary! I’d never made any kind of risotto before, but thought that this one, which didn’t seem too difficult, and that I was just making for the fun of it (not serving to others), would be the perfect kind to try.
It was easy. Really. The most difficult part of making this was focusing on the pot of rice and not walking away for 10 minutes (which is surprisingly hard when your attention span, like mine, makes you remember this laundry list of things that need to get done while in the middle of making risotto, of all things).
I’ve made the recipe below a few times, most recently for Thanksgiving. We had a small group so it wasn’t too much of a pain to make the risotto immediately before sitting down for dinner, but I probably wouldn’t make this if I was hosting a big dinner because I imagine it would be hard to mingle with guests while attempting to cook this. But, maybe some of you are far more capable at dealing with your stress than I am!
Another thing. The first time I made this, I was overly careful about making sure all the liquid was absorbed by the rice before adding more. Other times, though, I added the stock a bit more briskly but in the end, the rice wasn’t as plump and soft as I would’ve liked. I worried at first about this, but then I decided to calm the heck down and let the rice sit a bit and simmer. It helped a lot.
This risotto has such a deep, rich flavor, and the bite of the cremini mushrooms adds a good texture contrast and helps off-set the creaminess of the rice. I think it’s pretty interesting to consider that the dish has no butter or cream and can be made vegan by omitting the cheese (which is perfectly fine, I have made it both ways and it has always been wonderful), and still possesses a unique, rich creaminess. And the red orange color makes this a true fall comfort dish.
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
1 1/2 cup of arborio rice
4 cups of vegetable stock
3 shallots, minced
1 tsp of dried sage
1 cup of white wine (one you’d be likely to drink, preferably)
8-10 cremini mushrooms, chopped into bite size pieces
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup of freshly grated Parmesan (optional)
grated parmesan and mascarpone cheese (optional, to top risotto when serving)
Put your stock in a pot on the stove and bring it to a boil. Once this happens, reduce the heat, and allow the stock to simmer until you’re ready to use it.
Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a large pan and when it is hot, add the shallots, cooking them for 2-3 minutes until slightly translucent. Season with a pinch of salt.
Add the dried sage and stir for another minute before adding the arborio rice and toasting it lightly. This will take about 5 minutes.
At this point, add the white wine and allow it to reduce completely (this will take 3-5 minutes.)
Now, add the stock, one ladle at a time. Because I used low sodium stock, I seasoned the risotto with a pinch of salt and pepper after adding each ladle full of stock. If you’re using regular stock, I’d be a bit more careful with the salt. You just don’t want it to be too salty, so keep tasting to make sure you don’t go overboard.
Allow the rice to completely absorb the liquid before adding the next ladle. It’s not necessary to stir the rice obsessively, but don’t leave it for more than 2 or 3 minutes without a good, thorough stir.
While this is all going down, add extra virgin olive oil to a sautee pan and cook the cremini mushrooms until they are soft, but still tender. Season with salt and pepper while they cook. Once they’re done, take them off the heat until they’re ready to be added to the risotto.
When all of the stock has been added to the risotto, add the mushrooms and the parmesan cheese (if you choose to use it.) Fold carefully so as to not break the mushrooms.
Serve immediately with a dollop of mascarpone and some parmesan cheese shavings if you choose, or some chopped chives, if you have them.
Adapted from Chocolate Shavings