Risotto is by far the world’s most comforting food. This is true under any circumstances, but when the weather starts getting colder and we throw in some fall-inspired ingredients like pumpkin and sage, the comfort in this dish starts to reach levels that one might almost consider magical.
Not only are risottos one of my favorite foods to eat, they’re actually my favorite thing to make as well. People are often intimidated into thinking that this simple rice dish requires some God-given talent. Nonsense. Making a perfect risotto is actually very easy once you get the hang of it. Even the near-constant stirring can be relaxing. So grab a wooden spoon, pour a glass of white wine, and get stirring.
Makes 5 servings
- 1 small pumpkin
- 1 handful fresh sage leaves
- 1 medium red onion
- 3 stalks celery
- 1 1/2 cups arborio (risotto) rice
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 750 ml vegetable stock
- 1 lemon
- Olive oil
- Sea salt & Black pepper
- (optional) 1/4 cup Daiya Mozzarella-stlye shreds
A while ago, I posted a tutorial on making a risotto. I won’t reiterate all of that here, but if you need a refresher course, see: How to Make a Risotto before reading this recipe.
Preheat the oven to 350º F. “Butcher” your pumpkin and cut into small cubes. If you’ve never done this before, it can be quite a job. Watch this video for more instructions and keep your fingers safe.
With the pumpkin in small chunks, add them to a baking sheet with a splash of olive oil and roast for about 45 minutes until fully cooked and slightly browned.
Meanwhile, finely chop the celery and onions and add them to a large saucepan over medium heat with a splash of olive oil. Allow these to soften but not brown.
In a separate pot, add the vegetable stock with a few large sage leaves and bring to a simmer.
Add the arborio rice to the hot pan with celery and onions and allow it to cook dry for 1-2 minutes. Then, add a bit of white wine and stir until it is absorbed into the rice. Slowly add one ladle-full of stock into the pan at a time and stir occasionally until fully absorbed before adding more. This should take 20-30 minutes.
As the risotto is nearing completion, check on the pumpkin in the oven (did you forget about it?). It should be soft and fully cooked. When it is, toss it into the pan with the risotto along with generous amounts of salt and black pepper.
At this point taste the risotto. If all the stock has been absorbed and it is still too al dente and crunchy, use warm water until you have a perfect lava-like texture and the rice has become softened but not completely overcooked.
At the last minute, squeeze in a little lemon juice and throw in a few tablespoons of finely-chopped sage leaves. If you want to be naughty, you can also add a handful of non-dairy mozzarella-style shreds (Daiya works well). Stir these into the rice and remove from the heat – let the risotto rest for 2-5 minutes before serving alongside a glass of gorgeous Italian white wine… if you didn’t drink it all while stirring the risotto 🙂
20 CommentsLeave a Reply
Yum!! Thank you for this tasty recipe & the clear & helpful instructions! I’m trying to think of what dish would work best served with this. I keep thinking a succulent kale side would be nice, but can’t think of one I know that would suit this recipe. Pizza-creamed kale (an adaptation of detoxinista’s pizza-creamed spinach) has the succulence but not the right flavor profile to compliment this. Do you know of any succulent kale dishes that would suit this tasty recipe of yours? What do you usually or have you planned to pair with this?
Hmm, that’s a good question. Usually the only thing I pair with risotto is a fork! 🙂 but I agree that kale would be nice. You know what might work is a salad with bitter greens, like arugula with a light balsamic dressing.
I recently ‘invented’ a dish using minced white onion, frozen kale (about 1 lb bag), EVOO for sautéeing, course-ground black pepper, kosher salt, a soupçon of great northern beans (two heaping Tbsp) or any white bean and the optional crisp-cooked bacon and optional chopped grape tomatoes and optional crushed red pepper (we like spicy so I use 1 tsp per pan full). Sauté until the kale is to your liking. Keep from burning with glugs of Chinese white cooking wine (the only wine that doesn’t give my wife heartburn). I say invented above because I didn’t lift this from any read recipe, but there is nothing new under the sun; every time I make this it turns out slightly different. Even my vegetable hating son digs into this dish.
Haha I almost drank all the white wine while stirring the squash risotto I made a couple weeks ago. Love the pumpkin and sage idea! Will have to try that soon…. After a hardcore work out of course!
Haha, it happens! I remember seeing your squash risotto on IG – it looked awesome. Yes, a hardcore workout before/after risotto is a requirement 🙂
This sounds amazing! We shared it in a blog here: http://wedigfood.com/foodie-blog/10-vegan-thanksgiving-recipes. We a building a community of vegans and would love for you to hop over and leave a recipe.
About what weight would you say that the “small” pumpkin is? Sizing up the recipe for an event…
Oh I have no idea at this point… if you’re worried it won’t be big enough for your needs, just get a medium-sized one. 😉
Can I use butternut squash in place of pumpkin?
I’m sure you could! That actually sounds like a great substitution.
Try using kabocha squash (Japanese pumpkin) which can be found at Asian food stores and sometimes non-Asian stores as well. The beautiful part is that the ‘skin’ is edible as well.
Why does the “how to cut a pumpkin link” send me to a winni the Pooh video??
LOL, that’s a very good question… This was posted like 4 years ago so the link must have died. I just updated it with a new one.
What could be used instead of celery?
Ah, I’m not sure there is a good replacement. I love the celery in this dish but if you have to omit it, you can just use a little extra onion and you should be able to get by!
I’m taking this to my family’s thanksgiving, do you have any tips on how to prepare well ahead of time and still have it heat up well?
Ah, risotto is very hard to do ahead of time. The problem is that it continues to soak up the liquid and expand, so after a few hours you have very puffy and soft rice, and reheating only makes that worse. You can do it, just reheat with a little extra liquid, but it won’t be ideal.
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