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Pumpkin Risotto with Sage and Cherry Tomatoes

Pumpkin Risotto with Sage and Cherry Tomatoes
 This week's CSA share contained, as expected, a bonanza of tomatoes, as well as squash, cucumbers, carrots, brocolli, mesclun greens, edamame, garlic, peppers, Thai basil, watermelon, beets and radishes! Oh wait, I forgot to mention the big prize: a beautiful 2 lb Long Island Cheese Pumpkin! This is an heirloom pumpkin that is prized for pies.

When Elise saw the pumpkin she immediately said the magic words: "Ummm! Make some pumpkin risotto?" so, since I love cooking to request, pumpkin risotto immediately went on the schedule.

Longislandcheese_1As I thought about making this risotto I remembered that the last pumpkin risotto I'd made was a little disappointing because while it tasted good and was a bright pumpkin color, the pumpkin texture was totally obscured by the cooking process, so I made some adjustments: the pumpkin was cut in larger pieces and then partially cooked ahead of time, with some onions and wine, and added halfway through the cooking. This was a success, as the pumpkin pieces were just cooked through when the dish was done, and they held their shape and texture nicely.

I also served the risotto in a slightly different way, totally as a result of several nice restaurant dinners we've had recently here in Portland. I guess it's a mini-trend: food served on little pile of rice or risotto rising out of a moat of flavorful broth, in which there are various beautiful and tiny little vegetables swimming around. It's a great presentation and a great combination, so, instead of just plopping the risotto in a bowl -- my usual routine --  I poached a few sweet cherry tomatoes in some chicken broth flavored with herbs, swirled in some butter and seasoned the result with fish sauce and hot sauce. This little flavor enahancer was spooned around the edges of the risotto bowl, to great visual and taste effect. The sweetness of the cherry tomatoes paired nicely with the pumpkin and onion in the risotto, and as the broth mixed in with the risotto around the edges it provided interesting and subtle variations on the main theme.

Pumpkin Risotto with Sage and Cherry Tomatoes

2 lb pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cut in 1" chunks
2 medium onions, cut in 1/2" dice
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1/2 T sea salt
1/2 tsp. nutmeg, freshly grated
olive oil
1 C dry white wine
8 C chicken broth (low sodium)
6 T butter
1-1/2 C arborio rice
2 T fresh sage, minced
2 T fresh Thai basil, minced
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
hot sauce to taste
fish sauce to taste
Parmigiano Reggiano, shredded

Place the olive oil in a pan with the pumpkin, half the onion, the salt, the garlic and the nutmeg and sauté slowly, stirring occasionally, for about five minutes until the pumpkin starts to soften. Add the wine and continue to cook slowly for another 15 or so minutes, stirring occasionally. The pumpkin should be firm but nearly cooked. Remove from heat and set aside.

Bring the chicken broth to a slow simmer. Place 3 tablespoons of the butter in the risotto pot with the rice and the remaining onion. Sauté slowly until the rice starts to color and the onion is translucent. Add 2 cups of the broth to the risotto pot and adjust heat to a gentle simmer. Cook, stirring, for about 10 minutes, adding more broth as it is absorbed by the rice. Add the cooked pumpkin and onion to the risotto pot and continue cooking another 8 or 9 minutes, adding liquid as necessary and stirring constantly, until the rice is firm but no longer chalky at its core. Meanwhile, place a cup of the broth in a separate pan with the cherry tomatoes and bring to a very slow simmer. Stir into the tomato pot a teaspoon each of the herbs. When the risotto is nearly finished, add 2 tablespoons of the remaining butter to it, and most of the remaining herbs, and correct the seasoning. Stir the remaining tablespoon of butter into the tomato broth and season the broth with hot sauce and fish sauce to taste.

To serve, give the risotto one final stir to blend in the butter and place a mound in the center of each flat bowl. Add a spoonful or two of the tomato broth around the mounds and place a few of the tomatoes in the resulting moats. Scatter with herbs and garnish with sage leaves if desired. Serve the cheese on the side.

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Comments

Ya have me on board for everything except a moat of broth...I like my rissoto fairly 'dry' :)

Stephen,
That is a beautiful presentation.

What gorgeous color! Love love love pumpkin risotto. Beautiful!

Gorgeous & tasty. By the end of the week we should be in the low 70s - time for risotto!

And for this dish, I'm pulling Gobelsburger Gruner Veltliner (Austria) out of the fridge. Yum.

Your CSA share continues to provide such beautiful produce, and you continue to create little masterpieces with it. Thanks.

I'm so excited to try making this dish! I love risotto. I'm actually from Maine and lived in Portland for several years so it was a pleasant surprise to see you mention Katahdin.

This looks and sounds like a good one! I made a tasty fall risotto the other day too, featuruing butternut squash and chicken...recipe here:

http://cookingchat.blogspot.com/2006/11/butternut-chicken-risotto-with-fresh_15.html

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