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My recipe on D*S for Perfect Pumpkin Risotto is one that I conjured up many months ago, and I’ve been biting my nails ever since, anxious to share this heavenly and comforting winter dish with you. Unfortunately, the season for buying local pumpkins is likely passed in most parts at this point. But perhaps you’ve been holding on to one or two in your cellar, hoping to carry memories of glowing autumn days just a little deeper into the pale dimness of winter. Or, as you all are probably well-aware of by now (am I driving this point home too much?), pumpkin puree is a miracle ingredient and if you’ve got a stash, this risotto is well worth a cup or two. To replicate the “chunks” without any fresh pumpkin on hand here in the depths of winter, you could cube and roast sweet potatoes instead.
Perfect Pumpkin Risotto
A Straight from the Farm Original
- 1 large or 2 small eating pumpkins
- 2 t. extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 t. freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 t. coarse sea salt
- 1/4 t. cinnamon
- 1/4 t. finely minced fresh rosemary
- pinch of white pepper
- 1 firm ripe pear
- 3 C. vegetable stock
- 3 T. butter
- 1/2 C. diced onion
- 1 1/2 C. aborrio rice
- 1/2 C. white wine or sherry cooking wine
- 1/2 t. finely minced fresh rosemary
- 1/4 t. freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 1/2 C. pumpkin puree (above)
- 1 C. roasted pumpkin cubes (above)
- 1/2 C. freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 1/4 C. heavy cream
- freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste
- sprigs of rosemary to garnish
* The pumpkin portion of this recipe can be prepared in advance and stored in sealed containers in the fridge for 2-3 days before making the risotto or frozen for several months. Just thaw completely before making the risotto.
Begin with making the pumpkin puree and roasted cubes. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Cut the pumpkin(s) in half with a very sharp knife (be careful!) and scoop out the seeds with a large spoon. Place one half of the pumpkin cut side down in a baking dish and put about a half inch of water in the bottom. Place in oven and bake until a fork slides through the skin easily and the flesh is very soft, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and use tongs to place the pumpkin cut side up on a cool surface to let off some of the heat. When pumpkin can be handle (use a dish towel if you’re in a hurry), scoop out the soft flesh with a spoon and place in a food processor or blender. Process until smooth. Set aside. You can freeze any extras in a freezer bag for use later.
While the first pumpkin half is baking, prepare the second half of the pumpkin by using a good vegetable peeler to remove the skin and cutting the uncooked flesh into small cubes. Line a baking sheet with foil and place pumpkin cubes on it. Drizzle with oil and toss to coat evenly. Add the nutmeg, salt, cinnamon, rosemary, and white pepper. Wash the pear but do not peel it. Halve, core and dice the pear into smaller pieces than the pumpkin. Add the pear to the pumpkin on the sheet and toss everything with your hands to combine all the ingredients. Place in the oven and bake until tender and golden at the edges, about 25 minutes.
Once the pumpkin is well on its way to being done, begin to work on the risotto. Put the vegetable stock in a medium saucepan over low heat to come to a simmer.
Melt the butter in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat. When it is melted, add the onion and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the rice and stir for about two minutes so it can absorb the butter and toast a bit. Add the wine and let everything simmer for another minute or two until the wine is absorbed.
Set a timer for 18 minutes. Add about half a cup of hot stock to the risotto and stir constantly until it is absorbed. Add another half cup of stock and repeat this process until 18 minutes is up. Add the pumpkin puree, nutmeg, rosemary and a final half cup of stock and stir vigorously to combine. When risotto has once again become thick and creamy, add the roasted pumpkin cubes and grated cheese and stir again to combine. Finally, finish the risotto by stirring in the heavy cream and adding pepper and salt to taste.
Serve immediately while hot, garnishing with addition grated cheese and a sprig of rosemary on each plate.