Whenever I think of a perfect pumpkin, I think of Precious Ramotswe from the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency who loved to eat pumpkin stew so much. Last autumn, my produce guy, Mauro, sold me a whole pumpkin he swore was perfect (rather than my usual portion of a pumpkin). When I got home, I cut it open and finally understood how Mma Ramotswe felt. It was the best pumpkin I’ve ever smelled or tasted. I made Lena Corwin’s pumpkin bread, Julie Morelli’s roasted pumpkin salad, and a version of Amy Ruppel’s Roasted Butternut Squash, Onion and Garlic soup. Next time I will be able to add writer/photographer Jennie Love‘s Perfect Pumpkin Risotto. I usually do one with gorgonzola and pumpkin or taleggio and pumpkin, but the spices in Jennie’s version intrigue me. Hopefully you’ll be able to try it now. –Kristina
Jennie Love lives in Philadelphia where she is passionately involved in the burgeoning local food scene there. She is a freelance writer/photographer and a professional horticulturalist keenly interested in growing local cut flowers as much a food. In 2007, she started the popular food blog, Straight from the Farm, to document her involvement in the urban agriculture movement in Philadelphia. She now grows her own food in containers on her large deck and in a community garden allotment. She’s also created a quirky gardening blog, Straight from the Garden, and has a photography portfolio avail-able online right here. Jennie lives with her co-conspirator, Dave, and their three gray tabby cats in a delightful Philadelphia row house next door to a vintage trolley-car-turned-ice-cream-shop.
CLICK HERE for the full “Perfect Pumpkin Risotto” recipe after the jump!
Perfect Pumpkin Risotto
Pumpkin Puree and Roasted Pumpkin Cubes
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. arborio 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.
For the pumpkin puree and roasted pumpkin cubes
Preheat oven to 400 F. Cut the pumpkin(s) in half and scoop out the seeds with a large spoon. Place one half of the pumpkin cut side down in a baking dish. Fill with about half an inch of water. 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. Allow to cool (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 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, halve, core and dice the pear, leaving the skin on, 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. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the rice and stir for about two minutes until it is thoroughly coated with the butter and toasted a bit. Add the wine and let everything simmer for another minute or two until the wine has evaporated.
Set a timer for 18 minutes. Add about half a cup of hot stock to the risotto and stir con-stantly until it is absorbed. Add another half cup of stock and repeat this process, ad-justing the amount of liquid you add to the needs of the rice, until 18 minutes is up. The closer the rice is to being done, the less liquid you will need to add. Add the pumpkin puree, nutmeg, rosemary, and a final bit of stock, if necessary, 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.
WHY JENNIE CHOSE THIS RECIPE
I’m obsessed each autumn with the humble pumpkin. I must eat as many pumpkin-flavored dishes as possible before their season is gone in December, or even later if stored properly (which works well for this recipe). Any and all “eating” pumpkins can be used in pretty much the same manner, including in this recipe for the Perfect Pumpkin Risotto, which is by far my fa-vorite risotto. There is one general rule of thumb to follow when picking from a pile of pumpkins: for pumpkins you want to cook, choose ones that have a little bulge at the base of their stem, rather than an incurve like the classic jack-o-lantern pumpkin does.