I love pumpkin and squash – they are vegetables that truly know how to satisfy and are properly versatile, admittedly because they can be somewhat neutral tasting. This month, I decided to go for roasted pumpkin risotto. The Italian in me finds risotto a perfectly satisfying all-in-one meal for the winter months, and you can make it with any seasonal ingredient. Once you get the hang of the basic recipe you will see that it really isn’t that difficult – it’s all about keeping an eye on the rice. Remember though – the rice must be al dente (in other words, creamy but “firm to the bite”) – risotto MUST NEVER be mushy!
To really bring out the flavour of pumpkin it is best to roast it in the oven first – I like to keep some pieces whole and puree the rest (to add in at the end). Since pumpkin can be a little neutral, this is the basic skeleton recipe but I suggest to let your creative side loose. For instance, add fresh herbs like sage (a classic) or spices like nutmeg, coriander seed or cumin. Or try associating it with various cheeses – a classic combination is with blue cheese. Or adding nicely toasted hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds or walnuts for a little crunch. I also like associating it with bitter greens like dandelion leaves, roquette or kale.
450g of seasonal pumpkin cut into wedges. Cut several of the wedges into small cubes about 1cm wide and the rest you can keep as wedges for pureeing. Butternut squash or Kabocha squash are great alternatives. Kabocha gives it a wonderful chestnut flavour – it is my favourite squash.
1 medium white onion or 2-3 shallots
1-2 clover of garlic (optional)
100g of organic butter (you can use olive oil if you want to keep it vegan)
1.5 litres light chicken or vegetable stock
380g of risotto rice (Arborio or Carnaroli) – these rices are specially made for risotto and give it its signature al dente creaminess
125ml white wine or 50ml dry vermouth
60g freshly grated parmesan (optional but soooo good)