August 1, 2016
Risotto is one of those things that requires a little love, but returns it with interest when you sit down at the table.
My mother makes a great pumpkin risotto and it is still a real favourite of mine. In fact, I had to try a lot of different methods to get one that came even close to hers. The thing to keep in mind is that you need a decent pumpkin and some quality stock or you will be selling yourself and your guests short.
This version uses the humble pumpkin in multiple ways. It is first roasted with garlic and a little cumin to bring out its natural sweetness. Some of it is then pureed and stirred through the rice to coat every grain with its own layer of silky pumpkin-ness, the remainder is left as is. I would highly recommend using the seeds in the recipe for Roasted Pumpkin Seeds as an additional garnish (or tasty snack).
Sage is the perfect accompaniment for pumpkin and the crispy leaves add another flavour and texture to an already comforting dish. The mascarpone is optional, but if you are feeling a little decadent it elevates the dish to one of luxury.
Sprinkle the garlic over the pumpkin and place on an oiled roasting tray. Sprinkle over the cumin, some salt and pepper and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Place in the oven and cook at 180C for 20-25 minutes until soft and starting to brown.
Add a cup of the hot stock and stir gently until absorbed. Repeat with the remaining stock until absorbed or the rice is just cooked. It shouldn't be chalky, but still have some bite. The risotto should have a fairly wet texture as it will firm up when adding the cheese, butter and pumpkin. Water can be added as required if all of the stock is used up before this point.
To serve, place the risotto on the plate and arrange the pumpkin on top. Grate over some more cheese and place a scoop of mascarpone in the middle. Scatter over the pumpkin seeds and sage leaves to finish.