Sunday, February 8, 2009

Pumpkin Risotto: How Very Stirring

There's nothing quite like risotto in terms of versatility. You can serve it as either a side dish or a main dish, and is just as delicious classically prepared or all gussied up. The creamy texture of perfectly cooked arborio rice makes a fabulous base for just about a million different variations; this pumpkin version is super easy, and is not laden with cheese and butter as the majority of risotto recipes are! The key to making perfect risotto is in the constant stirring. The starch in the arborio rice gets released as it cooks, and if you're not constantly stirring and adding liquid, it very quickly can turn to sticky mush. But it doesn't take long, so it's worth every loving turn of the spatula.

Pumpkin Risotto
  • 1 shallot, finely minced
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup arborio rice (and yes, it has to be arborio)
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (straight out of the can is good, unless you really want to make your own!)
  • 1 cup dry white wine (room temperature); I recommend a chardonnay that has gone through a secondary malolactic fermentation so it has a rich, buttery taste - as opposed to a fruit-forward style of wine (for this recipe, I used a La Crema 2006 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay)
  • 3 cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken stock (warmed) - use vegetable stock for a vegetarian version
  • Salt, to taste
  • Parmesan cheese, grated
In a heavy saucepan, saute the shallot and garlic in the olive oil over medium-low heat; cook until the shallots and garlic are clear and tender. Add the arborio rice and saute in the oil for about 2 minutes. Maintain a medium-low temperature as you introduce the liquid ingredients. Add the white wine; stir constantly. Once the wine has been absorbed, start adding the hot stock 1 cup at a time as it is absorbed. Continue to stir constantly. Add the pumpkin in 1/2 cup increments as you add the 2nd and 3rd cup of stock. Once all of the stock has been added, season to taste with salt and continue to stir until the risotto reaches a creamy texture and the rice is al dente. Serve garnished with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.


  1. This is delicious! I used a variation on the suggested wine...just because I had something special opened from the night before. Try this: a late harvest Mendocino voignier instead of the Chardonnay. It's sweetness is a lovely compliment to the pumpkin. Add lots of parmesan to balance. Voila.

  2. I am loving your photos and the dishes as I browse. Keep up the great choices!!