It’s fall. Time to whip out those pumpkin recipes! I’ve literally been obsessed with pumpkin, so tighten your seatbelts, there’s lots more coming up from where this came from! You may get sick of seeing pumpkin because of me. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
I ate a risotto similar to this one at a restaurant sometime in August, and I thought it was a brilliant combination of flavors, except mine was less watery, albeit not as prettily decorated.Pumpkin is so flexible and works in just about everything. The combination of pumpkin, nuts and fresh herbs is truly amazing. It is great comfort food, especially during those cold days. They’re coming, you know? I actually caved today and turned on the heating. Wearing sweaters and drinking hot tea all day long just wasn’t cutting it anymore.
Risotto is more of a dish for winter anyway; all that hot wine can really make you tipsy and give you an illusion of heat. Every bite is like a small glimpse of summer on a dark autumn evening. It’s even as if the wind howling around the outer edges of the house are more of a calm, swift breeze when you eat anything that contains alcohol.
When I made this risotto, I started out thinking I had all ingredients available. But then I kind of had to make do without certain ingredients. Mainly something one would consider imperial for a proper risotto: arborio rice. I was also missing sundried tomatoes, as I’d just used my last batch up making kidney bean burgers. But for a resourceful cook, a lack of ingredients is no impediment. I simply replaced the arborio with whole grain rice. I only did this though, because it happened to be unpeeled Arborio. I was a bit skeptical at first, but I’m happy to report that this worked really well and that I enjoyed the different texture, which felt like eating a proper risotto anyway.
As a result of my experiment, I can absolutely recommend using whole grain Arborio rice for risotto, even though using regular risotto rice also has its perks. Now, as far as the sundried tomatoes are concerned, I found that they were secondary to the flavor and that my risotto was tasty anyway. Feel free to add them anyway!
½ medium pumpkin
gluten-free vegetable oil (or butter, if you prefer)
one onion, peeled and chopped
1 cup arborio rice
approx. 200ml dry white wine
approx. 600ml gluten-free vegetable broth
fresh herbs (e.g. chopped parsley, oregano and sage)
salt, pepper, chili flakes
parmigiano (grated) – optional
sundried tomatoes (which have been soaked in hot water for about ten minutes and cut into large pieces)
Two handful roasted nuts (e.g. almonds, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, cashews, pumpkin and sunflower seeds)
pumpkin seed oil
If you haven’t already done so, cut your pumpkin in half, take out the seeds. Wash it and cut it into four large wedges. Place the wedges into a casserole dish (or a baking tin, which you have lined with baking parchment). Rub your pumpkin wedges with vegetable oil. Add about 5 tbsp water to the dish (to avoid your pumpkin from drying out while roasting). Turn on your oven, to 220°C and place your casserole dish into it, preferably on the middle rack. Let roast for about twenty minutes or until tender. Yeah, I am still experimenting with my new oven, hence the burnt edges. Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature. Peel the pumpkin’s skin off, if you like, and proceed to mash pumpkin with the back of a fork.
Heat a tall, small pot and roast the chopped onions in hot vegetable oil. Wash your rice (e.g. with the help of a strainer) and place in the pot with the roasted onions. Turn the heat of your stove down to about medium heat. You want your risotto to simmer, but not boil like crazy (it will splatter all over!). If you are using sundried tomatoes, now is the time to add them. Stir well, for about a minute and then gently alternatingly add about half a cup of vegetable broth and half a cup of white wine, leaving about two or three minutes between each batch of liquid, allowing the rice to soak up the flavor of the broth and white wine. If you have a parmigiano rind, you can add that now, too. I learnt about two years ago, that it’s not imperial to continue stirring risotto all the time, so I just let it simmer on its own. Add the mashed pumpkin after about twelve minutes, and ensure it blends in with the broth, leaving no lumps. Add salt and pepper to taste. Continue to add vegetable broth and white wine alternatingly until the rice has been cooked tender and you are still left with a wonderfully thick pumpkin-white-wine-broth. This may take up to forty-five minutes.
While your risotto is simmering, roast your nuts in a shallow pot at medium heat until they are golden brown and fragrant. Add most of the nuts (you want to leaving some for decoration later!) to the risotto when it is almost done, letting them simmer together with the rest of the risotto for about five minutes (this will give your risotto a bit of a nutty flavor without taking away the crunch from the nuts). Finally, add the chopped herbs. I used frozen, because my herb garden has kind of died and there’s no point in replacing anything until spring.Serve your risotto in a bowl (I suggest removing the parmigiano rind from your risotto first) or on a plate meant for soup and decorated with a generous heap of grated parmigiano and some roasted nuts and seeds and a splash of pumpkin seed oil. Accompany with a glass of cold dry white wine and enjoy!