One of my Tweeps, Felicia Slattery, responded to one of my pleas for inspiration with the suggestion of talking about what you can do with pumpkin other than make pie. Since the appearance of pumpkin en masse in grocery stores, I’ve taken an interest in this myself (see my recipe for Pumpkin Baingan Bharta) and I have fallen in love with pumpkin as a savory ingredient.
Recipe: Pumpkin Risotto
For some reason, there is just something right about combining creamy risotto with pumpkin. I think it has to do with the fact that even though I have been cooking with pumpkin a lot recently, in my head, pumpkin is still synonymous with pumpkin puree, which is creamy itself, especially when combined with eggs, butter, and sugar.
How to Cook Pumpkin
However, before we get into the recipe, let’s take a minute to talk about cooking with pumpkin. It’ll be painless I promise.
There are a number of ways to cook pumpkin: boiling, steaming, and stir frying. However, the method that always works well for me is roasting it in the oven. Every time it produces well-cooked, juicy, and delicious pumpkin. Roasting is also easy, but it is time consuming.
To roast all you need to do is cut your pumpkin in half, clean out the seeds, cover in a little olive oil, salt, and pepper and bake in a 450 degree oven for 45 minutes.
How to Pick a Pumpkin
One other note. Then recipe, I promise.
When you are looking to eat pumpkin, look for sugar pie pumpkin or organic pumpkin from a quality grocery store like a Whole Foods. Most of the pumpkins that you find in a pumpkin patch or in a lot of grocery stores were bred to be hardy and stay together as scary faces are cut into them. This makes for tough, stringy pumpkin and not good for eating.
Okay, now without further ado…Pumpkin Risotto.
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup cooked pumpkin (1/5-1/8 of a cook sugar pie pumpkin) finely diced
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 cups arborio rice
- 4-6 cups of veggie or chicken broth
- 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese (optional for non-vegans)
- 4 tablespoons of butter (optional for non-vegans)
- Nutmeg for garnish
Put a high sided skillet or sauce pan over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Wait until the olive oil is hot and add the garlic. Saute for 30 seconds and add the pumpkin and a good pinch of salt. Saute for about three minutes and set aside.
Add the remaining olive oil and wait until it is hot. Add the onions and a pinch of salt and cook until translucent, 4-5 minutes. Then add the arborio rice. Stir well, making sure the onions and rice are covered in oil. Toast the rice for another 3 minutes.
Bring the heat down to medium. Using a soup ladel or measuring cup, add about two ladels (somewhere between a half cup and a cup) of broth into the rice. Give the rice a stir.
The broth should start to boil and will soon be absorbed into rice. When the rice is dry, ladel in more broth. Repeat until the rice is no longer able to absorb any more liquid. (It’s better to over do it, in my opinion, than under do it so don’t worry about adding too much. If the risotto is too runny, just cook the risotto a little longer.)
When the rice is at capacity, let it cook for another minute, then stir in the cheese and butter. Once the cheese has been incorporated, add the cooked pumpkin/garlic mixture and stir well.
Serve immediately with some nice crusty bread and side salad.