One of the veggies I really missed while living abroad were 'jap' pumpkins (squash for our American friends). They have the most beautiful color and texture. When making soups, muffins or in this case risotto you are in for a treat. The natural sweetness pops out in a flavor burst. The closest squash in the States would have to be an acorn or Del-acarda squash. If you got a butternut squash in prime season, bursting with flavor then it would almost be in the same running.
Simply roasted with a squirt of olive oil, some sea salt and cracked pepper this pumpkin turns any meal into a flavor treat, be it in a warm salad or a side with roast chicken.
For last nights dinner I made pumpkin risotto. I am getting really fed up with my lack of cooking equipment and electric stove so I decided to make something that only used two pans and with the range turned on HIGH, knew wouldn't fail me. Seriously a wok on electric just doesn't work!
When I make risotto at home I tend to cheat due to the fact I have more than one thing to do around dinner time. I wish I could give you measurements of liquid to rice but I am a guest-a-meter at home and never measure, so if you feel you need the guidelines, just look up any risotto recipe and use the relevant measures or check on the back of the packet.
I put the stock on to boil (chicken) and then peel and cut the pumpkin into half inch cubes in a rough dice. Throw the pieces of pumpkin into the stock and simmer for a few minutes to soften. Once stock has boiled and pumpkin is a little soft turn the heat right down low.
In a large fry pan saute some diced onion and garlic in butter(make the onion about half the size of the squash or small if you can). Once sauteed add the rice, put in some salt and pepper then heat the rice up without any stock, stirring constantly. If you have your rice and stock HOT then it is faster to cook the risotto.
After a few minutes of stirring the rice, pour in enough stock to cover rice, be careful as the stock will bubble a lot. Give it a stir to ensure even cooking and then leave it to cook, stirring every few minutes so it doesn't stick. When your rice has absorbed 80% of the stock continue to add more so it covers the rice, you might have to flip some of your pumpkin dice into the pan and break it up with the back of the spoon when cooking with the rice. The photo above is how your rice should look.
While your rice is cooking, grate a handful of parmesan cheese and chop up a handful of parsley to throw in while you rest the rice.
OK, so all your stock is in the fry pan along with your pumpkin, the rice looks fat yet a little liquidy- all good. Taste a piece of rice, if it is soft with a slight 'bite' to it then it is ready to rest.
Remove from the heat, squeeze half a lemon over risotto (really adds another dimension to the dish) put grated parmesan and parsley on top and then leave to rest for 3-4 minutes. (so pour yourself a glass of wine, set the table what ever). Give your risotto one more stir to combine all ingredients and then pile onto a plate or bowl. If your looking for a meat hit as well, grilled panchetta works a treat on top or crispy bacon.