I’ve never been a big fan of pumpkin, or squash in general. Last winter I made a very tasty squash, red wine and bacon soup that was a big hit, but never found its way into my recipe rotation. This year I bought some pumpkin for my Thanksgiving pie and once the holiday was over, I decided to give it another chance. Pumpkin risotto was born, and I couldn’t even begin to tell you how incredibly unctuous, smooth and fragrant it was. Of course, you must like the flavor of pumpkin, and I’ll admit that even though it’s not one of my favorite flavors in a savory dish, I enjoyed each and every last spoonful.
The addition of nutmeg brings back memories of pumpkin pie while the emmental cheese and salt make it distinctly savory, yet sweet at the same time. I do love a salty-sweet combo, and this one was perfect for a cold fall/winter day. You could roast the pumpkin and dice it for texture, but I found that cooking it in water and puréeing it made for a dreamy texture. I’ll leave that one up to you, either way this risotto will be packed full of fall flavor.
Impossibly creamy pumpkin risotto
1 small onion
1 T butter
1 T olive oil
2 C Arborio rice
3-4 C vegetable stock
1 1/2 C fresh pumpkin
2 T crème fraîche, sour cream or heavy cream
1/2 t nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4-1/2 C of emmental or gruyère cheese
This dish is made like any other risotto, with the addition of the pumpkin at the very end. Begin by cooking your pumpkin in a casserole of boiling water until very tender, about 8-10 minutes. Strain and then purée the pumpkin along with the nutmeg, salt and pepper. Set aside.
In a large deep pan, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add the onion and sautée for about 2-3 minutes before adding the rice. Toss so that the rice is well coated with the fat and onions and cook, stirring frequently, for about 3-4 minutes longer. Add enough stock to cover the bottom of your pan and let the mixture simmer, stirring often, until almost all of the liquid is absorbed. Continue in this manner, adding the stock by the ladle-full and letting the liquid absorb between each addition until the rice is tender and cooked through (you may not use all of the stock). Once the rice is just about ready, add a ladle of pumpkin purée and let it cook down as you did with the stock. Season with salt and pepper at this point, and when the rice is fully cooked and ready, stir in the remaining pumpkin purée, crème fraîche and cheese. Serve immediately with a dollop of crème.