It’s been a long time since I’ve made risotto. Actually thanks to my blog archiving it, It’s been exactly 3 years, 4 months and 26 days since I made this risotto. With mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes and topped with bulgogi, it was undoubtedly wacky but surprisingly delicious. I remember Karthik (not a vegetarian at the time) suggesting the combination since we had leftover bulgogi sitting in the fridge from the previous night, and I, somewhat reluctant at first, chowed it all down within seconds. Italian + Korean, who would’ve thought, right?
This pumpkin and saffron risotto is relatively sane; traditional even – at least the saffron part! If you’ve been acquainted with my blog (me) around here, you will have realized that I have an
affinity obsession for roasting vegetables. So much so that I often feel that from a reader’s perspective this must feel like a theme-based blog. The blurry lime features recipes with all things roasted. Sounds about right. You think it’s too late to switch it up now?
I can safely spare you the spiel about how everything tastes better when it’s roasted, but I do want to quickly point out that the roasted pumpkin makes all the difference here. It would be a pretty tasty risotto even without it, but the sweet earthy flavour of the pumpkin with the aromatic saffron is a wicked combo. Both components dye the risotto a beautiful sunshine yellow which is definitely an added bonus.
The instructions about pouring the stock in one ladle at a time can sound daunting (and Masterchef calling it the ‘death dish’ has added fuel to fire here), but don’t be intimidated – the only thing you need to remember to do is stir the risotto constantly. And take it off the heat when it still looks a little too wet to eat; it thickens within seconds, so by the time you serve up it will be the perfect consistency. What is not hyped-up about making risotto though, is the amount of time you need to spend stirring. I got in a second arm workout this week.
Next up: a roasted tomato and coriander pesto. Again, is it too late to switch it up now?
- 1 1/4 cups arborio rice
- 250 grams pumpkin, cubed (about 3/4 cup pumpkin purée)
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 litre vegetable or chicken stock
- 1/2 cup dry white wine (optional)
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese (plus extra to serve)
- 1/4 tsp saffron threads
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- A few thyme leaves (optional)
- A small knob of butter
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Salt, to taste
- Pumpkin seeds, to serve (optional)
- Preheat oven to 180 C (360 F). Toss the pumpkin pieces with olive oil and lay them out in an even layer on a baking tray. Roast until they soften, about 30-40 minutes.
- Once slightly cooled, add the roasted pumpkin to a blender and purée until smooth. Set aside.
- Pour the stock into a saucepan and stir in the saffron. Let the stock simmer on a low heat while you get on with the rice.
- Heat butter in a large pot and sauté onions and garlic until translucent. Tip in the rice and cook until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Toss in the thyme leaves along with white wine, and cook until the wine has evaporated, about 2 minutes.
- Add ½ cup of stock and stir constantly until it’s been absorbed. Continue adding stock ½ cup at a time, stirring all the while, until the rice is tender but with a bite to it. It usually takes about 20-25 minutes.
- Stir in the pumpkin purée and parmesan, and season with salt and lots of black pepper. (Note: take it off the heat when it’s still slightly runny. It thickens within seconds once it’s off the heat, so it will be the perfect consistency when you serve up. If it’s too dry, stir in some stock or water to loosen out).
- Ladle into bowls and top with grated parmesan and a few pumpkin seeds. Serve immediately.
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