Easy Eats: Savoring Fall Squash

Try this delicious fall risotto using fresh pumpkin. It’s an unusual combination, and it’s perfect for a dinner party or a special night at home.

When people think of recipes that use pumpkin, they usually think of pumpkin pie. Makes sense, but this versatile vegetable, with its mildly sweet, earthy flavor, is great in savory dishes too. Try this delicious fall risotto using fresh pumpkin. It’s an unusual combination, and it’s perfect for a dinner party or a special night at home.

Pumpkin Risotto

Serves | 4 to 6 |

  • 4 small pumpkins
  • kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp + 1 Tbsp grape seed oil, divided
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
  • 1/8 cup + ½ cup minced shallots, divided
  • 1/8 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 tsp ground white pepper
  • 8 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 1/3 cup Riesling
  • ½ cup grated Parmigiano- Reggiano
  • 2 tsp chopped sage

| Preparation | Preheat oven to 400°F. Remove the top of each pumpkin and hollow them by scooping out the meat and discarding the seeds. Place flesh in a bowl and then place the hollowed pumpkins on a baking sheet. Lightly oil and salt the inside and outside of each pumpkin and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until tender but not wilted. Remove from oven and cool.

Meanwhile, chop the pumpkin flesh into small dice. Bring a medium sauté pan to medium heat and add 2 Tbsp grape seed oil and 1 Tbsp butter. Cook the pumpkin and 1/8 cup minced shallots until tender. Season with salt. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Process half the mixture in a food processor until smooth. Set aside.

Add the allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon stick, cloves and white pepper to a small pot with the stock. Heat until steaming and then reduce heat to low. Bring a large heavy-bottomed pot to medium heat. Add remaining grape seed oil and butter to pan. When the butter is bubbly, add the remaining shallots. Cook until translucent. Add the rice and sauté for a few minutes until you can hear the rice slightly sizzling. Deglaze the pan with Riesling and cook until almost entirely evaporated. Add ½ cup of seasoned stock and stir until absorbed. Continue to add stock and stir until the rice is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Be sure not to overcook the rice. Stir the puréed pumpkin and Parmigiano-Reggiano into the rice, and then fold in the sautéed pumpkin. Place the finished risotto into the hollowed pumpkins and top with sage. Rewarm in the oven for 5 minutes and serve.


Pumpkin in a pinch. If you can’t find fresh pumpkin, you can use canned pumpkin in place of the purée. Be sure to keep tasting as you add it, though, because canned pumpkin can be very sweet.

Boosting your stock. To intensify the flavor of the stock, add hearty vegetables such as onion, celery and carrot and simmer for about 30 minutes. Then simply strain the stock, add the spices and proceed with the recipe. Always be sure the stock is hot before you add it to the risotto. Adding cold or room-temperature stock will slow down the cooking process and result in unevenly cooked rice.

Taking cues. Before you add the rice to the pan, it is opaque. As it sautés, you’ll hear a slight crackling sound. That’s a good thing. Next you’ll notice the rice turning translucent at the ends of each grain. When it becomes about 70 percent translucent, it’s time to add the liquid.


Join FEAST and Schnucks Cooking School on Wed., Oct. 24, at 6pm to make the tasty dishes in the menu above. Tickets are just $40 for a night of cooking, dining and wine. RSVP at schnuckscooks.com.

The menu:

  • Pumpkin risotto
  • Pan-fried pork chops
  • Roasted beet salad
  • Maple-thyme custard

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