Halloween, or should I say Fall, or actually, just the start of September sees the beginning of the American love affair with pumpkins. The PSL was available on 1 September at Starbucks, and with that key indicator, the start of all other pumpkin related recipes and drinks began.
I'm sorry to say, that I'm not really a fan of anything sweet that contains pumpkin. Pie, Latte... I just don't have the taste for it. But I do love pumpkin, butternut squash and sweet potato for hearty Fall recipes. I actually look forward to having the chance to cook with those ingredients.
Risotto is one of my "go-to" comfort foods that works magic on the soul. I actually make it all through the year - in Spring/Summer I make Pea, Zucchini & Asparagus Risotto or Wild Mushroom Risotto. On those Fall evenings when there is a nip of cold in the air, or it's pouring with rain, like today, Pumpkin risotto is just perfect. Creamy, hearty and using seasonal ingredients, you will really impress with this dish. It's even orange colored so you feel like you are eating Fall!
If you've always been a little daunted by cooking risotto, follow this recipe and it won't fail you. It's simple, and you will only be stirring your risotto at the stove for between 20-30 minutes, nothing more than that. If you're having friends over for Halloween and want to give them something vaguely themed, but grown-up, this is the recipe for you. Happy Halloween!
For the roasted pumpkin/butternut squash: 1 cup diced pumpkin or butternut squash, 1-2 tbsp. olive oil, salt & pepper
For the risotto:
1 quart (1 litre) good Vegetable stock (I use More than Gourmet, Culinary Vegetable stock)
2-3 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion diced
3 garlic cloves crushed
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 cup Arborio rice (or any other Risotto rice)
1/2 cup white wine
1/3 cup pumpkin puree from a can (not the pie mix, just plain pumpkin)
3-4 basil leaves finely chopped
1 1/2 tbsps. mascarpone
3/4 cup grated parmesan
For serving: Goats cheese crumbled (optional), Chopped basil, Olive Oil, Grated parmesan
Preheat your oven to 380F. Take your diced pumpkin or butternut squash and scatter on a baking tray. Drizzle with the olive oil and salt & pepper. Toss until coated. Roast in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, turning halfway through cooking time.
Whilst the squash is cooking, place two large pans on the stove. Empty the stock into one pan, over a medium/high heat and start heating up to simmering.
In the second pan, start to warm the olive oil on a medium heat, and then add your onion and cook gently until translucent. When the onion is cooked, add the crushed garlic and the unsalted butter. Stir gently until the garlic is cooked, and the butter has melted.
Add your risotto rice to the garlic/onion mixture and gently fry the rice for 1 minute until the rice has absorbed some of the butter and looks a little more translucent.
Add the white wine, and stir the rice until the white wine has been absorbed.
Take a ladle and spoon one ladle from the hot stock pan into the rice mixture. Keep the heat on both pans on medium. Stir the risotto pan until the stock has been absorbed. Don't let the rice completely dry out before adding a second ladle and stir again. The rice should always have a little liquid in it as you keep adding new ladles of stock. Adjust the heat on your risotto pan to medium/high if it's taking too long to stir in the stock, but don't cook it on too high a heat. Risotto needs to be cooked slowly so it's fully cooked through, but remains creamy.
Keep adding ladles of stock, until you only have around 2 ladles of stock remaining.
Add the pumpkin puree and chopped basil, and stir through. Then add the remaining ladles of stock, stirring until absorbed.
Add the mascarpone, parmesan and basil leaves. Stir until everything has melted and combined. Turn off the heat and put the lid on the risotto, and let it sit for 5 minutes.
In the meantime, take your roasted squash out of the oven (if using), and stir this into the risotto. Taste and check seasoning. The stock already contains some salt so add as appropriate.
Spoon into bowls and sprinkle with a little goats cheese (if using), parmesan, basil and a little drizzle of olive oil.