Winters! Oh how I love the winters. Beginning a season of holidays and shopping; denoting time for festivities, decorations, parties, celebrations with family and friends. With Thanks giving just around the corner, the pumpkin feast sneaks along with it.
Do you feel stocked up with so many varieties of pumpkins and different kinds of squash and you keep experimenting, mixing all kinds of flavors, making all kinds of pies and breads? I reckon it is so, because to me, the very look of a pumpkin produces happiness, and amazingly, makes me romantic too. I care to imagine, it happens with you too.
Isn’t pumpkin or any winter squash, one of the most gorgeous and sexy looking vegetable with all those beautiful curves to it? Just by adding a few spices to it, makes it super delicious and great for holidays.
My second pumpkin recipe of the season goes in spirit with the holidays, and I decided to make pumpkin risotto. It was an interesting experiment on my husband as he is just not a pumpkin person and definitely not a winter person either. But this warm comforting creamy risotto with a kick of heat to it can make anyone fall in love with this beautiful and romantic winter season. I say romantic, because winters just pours its tenderness onto you, and a little heat divulges the beauty it holds.
I made this pumpkin risotto with half of each arborio rice and barley. The nuttiness and the complexity of the whole grain mixed with the starchy rice makes this dish delicious. I added a little bit of nutmeg and saffron to give more flavor to it and Havarti cheese makes this dish rich and creamy. Finally served it in a baked acorn squash and baked bear pumpkin. The creamy and flavorful risotto with mildly sweet pumpkin/squash makes it perfect for the season. This is what I call ‘Pure Indulgence’.
- 2 medium acorn squash/ 4 bear pumpkin
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp chili flakes
- 2 Tbsp pumpkin puree
- 3 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1/2 cup arborio rice
- 1/2 cup barley
- 200 grams white mushrooms
- 50 gm green onions
- 1 finely chopped finger chili
- 1/3 cup white wine
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup grated Havarti cheese
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- few strands of saffron
- 1 tsp freshly chopped thyme
- 1 tsp freshly chopped sage
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven 400°
- Cut the stem part of pumpkin/squash and deseed the vegetable. Trim little bit bottom to make it even so the squash stands properly.
- Brush them with olive oil and sprinkle salt, pepper, chili flakes and dried thyme.
- Bake for 45 minutes to an hour until tender.
- Meanwhile mix the pumpkin puree with stock in saucepan and heat until warm.
- Add saffron strands and nutmeg in the stock and let it simmer on very low flame so it remains warm and saffron releases its flavor.
- Melt the butter in a pan and put little oil so butter does not burn.
- Add mushrooms and finger chili and cook on high for 1-2 minutes till water starts to dry up.
- Add onions and cook for a minute and then add salt.
- Add rice and barley and stir for 2 minutes on medium.
- Add wine and cook till liquid gets absorbed stiring constantly.
- Add the fresh herbs.
- Now add stock 1 ladle at a time stiring and cooking the rice till the liquid gets absorbed each time. This will help release the starch from the grains giving it creamy texture. this process should take 20-25 minutes.
- Take it off the stove and mix in the Parmesan cheese, Havarti cheese and pepper.
- Serve hot in the baked squash/pumpkin.
- You could make the risotto with just rice if you don't prefer barley or vice versa.