Accidental Pumpkin Risotto

by NAA

Styrian PumpkinI’ve really enjoyed cooking here and experimenting with new ingredients. Over the holidays, I couldn’t find the canned pumpkin paste I usually use for pumpkin pie, nor could I find a pre-made pie crust. Maybe I’m just lazy, but I wasn’t hard core enough to want to make the dough from scratch. Instead, I made the pumpkin “paste” from scratch (as it turns out, peeling and roasting a pumpkin is an epic battle best fought with a machete) and bought some pre-made strudel dough. You guessed it – we had pumpkin strudel for our little Thanksgiving meal here. Classic.

I had a lot of roasted pumpkin leftover from the strudel, so I decided to use it for some Pumpkin Risotto. Not sure why risotto popped into my head of all things, but in any case, I went for it. In the closing moments of the risotto preparation, just as the risotto approached the perfect chewy-but-not-overcooked texture and the time had come to add the cheese, I realized I had completely forgotten to buy Parmesan. We did, however, have some Ementaler (a mild regional cheese) on hand, which I promptly grated and added to the risotto.

As luck would have it, the mild Ementaler complemented the Pumpkin and white wine quite well and rounded out the traditional Styrian influence on the dish: Styria is well known both for the pumpkins and for the Ementaler cheese. I invite you to try this happy accident, so straight from the Styrian heartland, here is the recipe.

Accidental Pumpkin Risotto

1 cup roasted and mashed pumpkin (be sure to use a “Sugar Pumpkin” or “Speisekurbis”)

2 medium onions, chopped

2 TBSP olive oil

2 cups Arborio rice

3 cups white wine

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp ground cloves

3 cups vegetable or chicken stock

1 cup grated Ementaler cheese

Salt

1/2 cup chopped parsley

In a large pot, saute the onion in the olive oil over medium heat until soft, but not brown. Add the rice to the oil and onion mixture and stir well for a few minutes, coating each grain with the olive oil. Add one cup of white wine at a time and stir until each is absorbed. Add spices. Add one cup of stock at a time and stir until each is absorbed. Stir in the pumpkin. Just as the risotto is nearly done, stir in 1/2 cup grated cheese. Salt to taste. Serve individually with garnish of grated cheese and chopped parsley.

Note: Once you add the rice, stir the risotto continuously. As the risotto becomes thicker, you may need to reduce the heat to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

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