It is this time of year again – Halloween is here! In the UK pumpkins are brought on mass for carving but very few people cook with them.
The fleshy meat of a pumpkin has a sweet nutty taste and is similar to a butternut squash. You can interchange it with butternut squash in recipes however, on some occasions, I feel pumpkin is the better alternative as it is not as sweet. It is important to use edible pumpkins to cook with instead of the large ones bred for carving.
Pumpkin works perfectly in risotto and paired with sage it is a winning combination. In this recipe I used carnaroli rice instead of the popular arborio rice. Carnaroli rice has a higher starch content compared to other risotto rice and therefore has a firmer texture. May dad doesn’t usually like risotto but he said “this is the best risotto I’ve ever tasted”. I could say that this is down to my amazing cooking skills…… but I have a feeling the choice in rice significantly contributes – it has been donned as the “king of rice” after all.
a few glugs of olive oil
2 knobs of butter
7 small shallots
2 small cloves of garlic
sprig of fresh sage
1 edible pumpkin
salt and pepper
200g carnaroli rice
a large glass of white wine (or a bottle so you can finish off the rest with dinner)
about 750ml vegetable stock
50g peccorino and shavings to decorate
a few springs of time
balsamic glaze (optional)
Dice the pumpkin into 1 or 2 inch piece and cover with a glug of olive oil, salt, pepper and a few torn sage leaves. Roast in the oven for about an hour at 200C until the pumpkin is cooked and the edges are brown and caramelised. It is important to caramelise the edges as this intensifies the flavour of the pumpkin. The risotto can be made while the pumpkin is roasting.
Dice the shallots and put into a deep pan with a few ripped sage leaves, a glug of olive oil and a knob of butter. The oil prevents the butter from burning. Cook the shallots for around 10 minutes until opaque and golden. Add the crushed garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes. Remove the sage leaves – these can be used as a garnish. Add the rice and cook out for about 5 minutes then add the wine. The heat should be turned down to a low-medium heat. Cook the wine out whilst constantly stirring.
Once all of the wine is absorbed, its time to add the stock. This should be done a ladle at a time, the next ladle only added once the previous has been completely adsorbed. Stir constantly. Stop adding stock when the risotto is an al dente texture, glossy and free-flowing. Risottos should never have a gloopy, porridge like texture.
Once the risotto is al dente and slightly underdone, it is time to add the cooked pumpkin. Then cook for about a minute, adding the percorino and knob of butter to finish off the risotto. Season to taste.
Dish up the risotto between 4 plates. Decorate with a balsamic glaze (compliments the flavour of the risotto perfectly and not just a pretty decoration), shaved pecorino and crisp sage leaves. Enjoy with the remaining wine from the used bottle!
Do you have any recipes using pumpkin that you love to cook? Please share and comment below.