I love pumpkin. I’m sure I am repeating myself. But I just love the texture, the subtle taste and the delightfully bright color. It’s the perfect vegetable to brighten up those dreary winter days. Whenever I see those lovely big chunks of pumpkin on the shelf of my green grocer, I cannot resist. I grab one and look for ways to use it at home. Here’s a very comforting way to turn pumpkin into a delicious dairy side dish or main dish for vegetarians.
Risotto is such a wonderful comfort food. It’s not as daunting as all those cooking shows would have you believe. You don’t have to stand over the pot every second and stir, but it does require a little more loving attention than a regular pot of rice. And the result is just yummy. My second vegetable is zucchini because I have people in my house who hate mushrooms, but you can substitute mushrooms instead if you’re a fan. And please don’t scimp on the parmesan cheese – it makes the dish.
3 teaspoons + 4 teaspoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium-sized onion finely diced
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1-2 cups diced pumpkin (the pieces should be quite small – about 1½ cm / ½ an inch
1 medium-sized zucchini diced or about 8-10 white mushrooms diced (or both if you want)
1½ cups arborio (risotto) rice
4-5 cups hot stock (parev chicken or vegetable)
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper
½-¾ cup finely grated parmesan cheese
How to do it
- In a medium sized pot (preferably non-stick but not essential) melt the 3 teaspoons butter and olive oil. Add the onion and fry on medium heat until soft (not brown). Add the garlic and stir together for about a minute (do not let it burn).
- Add the rice and stir it into the onion and garlic until the rice is well coated in the oil. Stir in the pumpkin and the zucchini / mushrooms. Mix well.
- Increase the heat to high and add 1 cup of the stock and stir the mixture well until it comes to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium heat and allow the liquid to simmer, stirring frequently, until most of the liquid is absorbed. Then add another cup of liquid, and stir it in, stirring now and again. When that is absorbed, add some more liquid, and repeat this process until the rice is just cooked (don’t overcook the rice, so add smaller amounts of liquid each time after the 2nd cup, and keep tasting). Make sure that not all the liquid cooks away – a good risotto should be just slightly runny and not stodgy. This should take about 15 minutes.
Note – you don’t have to use all the stock once you see that your rice is cooked and the consistency is right.
- Add the extra 4 teaspoons butter and stir well till it’s melted.
- Turn off the heat and add the salt and freshly ground pepper, parsley and parmesan cheese, and stir well through the mixture. Serve immediately.
Serves about 6 as a side dish