pumpkin risotto with fried sage leaves


I'm going to guess that a lot of pumpkin recipes on your horizon are of the baking variety, right? Pumpkin rolls, muffins an probably towards the end of this month, a pie or two. First things first, no arguments here. Still, the beauty of pumpkin is it's versatility to be the star of dinner AND dessert. And breakfast. And any time of day you feel it appropriate to have, I don't know, a pumpkin donut. Because that would fall under morning, noon and night if you ask me.

Risotto is an increasingly popular way to enjoy the fall-themed flavor of pumpkin, especially when you pair it with a combo of savory-sweet spices (think cumin and cinnamon) and top with a little fried sage, an herb that pairs beautifully with this seasonal squash.

For this recipe you'll need:

4 cups of vegetable stock, heated through
1 cup of arborio rice
1 leek, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
1 stalk of celery, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 to 2 cups of pumpkin purée
Freshly ground salt and pepper
2 tablespoon of butter
About 2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan (optional for those who are vegan/lactose-intolerant)
Olive oil
Some fresh sage leaves, about 2-3 for each serving

Thoroughly heat your stock in a small saucepan. It's important to start with warm vegetable stock, rather than refrigerated or even room temperature, as this will affect the way the rice cooks. In a larger pot, add a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Add your chopped vegetables and garlic and stir constantly, so as to fry but not brown.

After about 10 minutes of stirring, add your rice. Keep stirring and wait until you notice the rice going slightly translucent around the edges while staying white in the very center. This will happen relatively quickly and is more or less frying the rice. Add your salt, pepper, cumin and cinnamon. After this happens, about 2-3 minutes, add your pumpkin purée in half-cup increments. Stir rapidly to incorporate.

At this point it's time to slowly add your stock, also in half-cup increments. Allow each scoop of stock to be fully absorbed by the rice before adding more liquid. Though the stock will disappear into the rice relatively quickly each time, it's important to keep stirring as to avoid sticking or burning.

Once you've used all your stock, have a taste: the rice should be al dente, or still retain a slight bite or chewiness, while the stock lends a creamy factor to the texture. If it's still slightly too tough, add more pumpkin purée or stock. When the desired texture is achieved, stir in your butter. If you've opted in include cheese (bless you), add now.

In a small pan, add a tablespoon or two of olive oil (coconut oil will also work well here). Add your sage leaves (carefully) and fry for about 30 seconds on each side. Don't let them get brown, only slightly crisp. Top risotto with sage and an extra sprinkle of Parmesan.