No offense to anyone who adores summer, but I am a hard core fall girl and I’m so glad it is finally here! I’ve had the fall candles out since we moved into the new house, I did a full fall beer haul recently, and I even made homemade chai concentrate to usher in the season. I also pulled out most of my winter clothing and ran it through the wash in preparation for cooler weather. I’m ready. Let’s do this.
An equally fall crazy friend of mine was over a while back, and in exchange for the fall beer she brought I made her this delicious pumpkin risotto. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m on a full risotto kick, so have been looking up various recipes for inspiration. I usually compare and contrast several recipes for the same dish before creating my own with a bit of inspiration from each. This was no different. The recipe here is vegan, but I have tried adding some Parmesan cheese right at the end and it’s super tasty.
If you aren’t familiar with risotto, it is a dish made with Arborio rice. It originates in northern Italy and the rice is cooked slowly in broth until it is a creamy consistency. It’s like rice in gravy basically, but so much more delicious than that explanation sounds. I mean, it’s Italian. You could use another type of rice, but most grocery stores carry Arborio rice so I recommend using that variety. My local grocer even carries it in bulk, which is awesome. If you don’t use Arborio, a short grain rice is recommended.
A lot of people ask if risotto is difficult. It is not. In fact, I’d say it doesn’t require much culinary skill at all. It does, however, take time. And not just set it to cook, walk away, and come back an hour later, but consistent attention for around 45 minutes or more. I can step away for a minute or two to grab the next ingredient, but for the most part I’m standing over the stove stirring. I actually like the time some nights, as a decompression from the day. You can also make a larger batch as meal prep. I haven’t tried freezing it, but my guess is it would work well.
I’m not a huge wine drinker but it has been my experience that recipes made with wine are superior to those made without. Risotto is a prime example of this. I have made plain red wine mushroom risotto that was heavenly, but here with the heavier squash I used white. I think the type of wine used would depend on the other ingredients. I used a Chardonnay because that’s what I had, but I have heard that Pinot Grigio is excellent for risotto. You definitely don’t have to use wine either, just add equal broth or water to make up the liquid. I used 1 cup of the rice and a total of 5 cups of liquid. I honestly don’t usually measure, it’s more a process of adding a little liquid, letting it cook, adding a little more, letting it cook, etc. until the rice is cooked and the consistency is on point.
I’ve recently switched from regular broth to using Better Than Bouillon paste. Most recipes don’t use the whole container of liquid broth so I find myself wasting space in the fridge before wasting the broth itself. I like the bouillon because I can make the exact amount I need for a recipe, and it lasts a lot longer in the fridge. It also takes up less pantry space than the cartons. It has been a game changer.
I add the various spices along the way, and the pumpkin at the very end. I used a combo of sage, nutmeg, and allspice, but a lot of recipes call for thyme instead of sage. I was out of thyme so used sage instead. It’s a favorite for fall recipes, probably because I use it in my stuffing, so I thought it would work well. I also used a rosemary infused olive oil for additional flavor, but obviously you can use whichever oil you prefer for cooking. You could even go without oil and just saute the veggies in a small amount of water first.
This dish optimizes comfort food, which is obviously ideal as we move into cooler weather. I love how versatile and variable it is; you can use any veggies, and add any flavors. I usually eat it as a main dish, but it makes an excellent side as well. 1 cup of rice makes about 4 full servings, so you can adjust depending on how much you want.
1/2 onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
10 mushrooms, sliced
salt and pepper
1 heaping teaspoon Better Than Bouillon in 2 cups boiling water
1 cup drier white wine
1 Tbsp sage
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground allspice
2+ cups water or more broth
1 – 1 1/2 cups pumpkin (could use whole 15 oz can if making a 1 cup rice or more batch)
- Saute the onion, garlic, and mushrooms in olive oil until mushrooms are cooked to desired level. They won’t cook down much once you start adding liquid, so make sure they are to your liking before you add the rice. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Reduce heat to a lower medium (on a scale of 1-10, 3 or 4) and add the rice. Cook for 30 second to a minute.
- Add wine and cook the liquid down for a few minutes.
- Begin adding broth in approximately 1 cup increments. Cook until rice absorbs at least half of the liquid before adding more, stirring frequently.
- Continue adding broth in increments and cooking until liquid absorbs.
- Midway through add remaining spices.
- Taste test rice to monitor doneness. Once the rice is cooked through and the risotto is a creamy, thicker texture, stop adding liquid.
- Reduce heat to low and add pumpkin.
- Stir well and continue to cook for a few minutes.
- Serve topped with pumpkin seeds.
Hello! I’m Whitney and this is my home for all things food and life.