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 🙂