Pumpkin and Feta Risotto

October 28, 2013

OneHungryMama Pumpkin Feta Risotto

Enjoy looking at all those pumpkins around your house because, after Thursday, it’s a take down. At least it will be on my little patch of Brooklyn.

I always leave a few pumpkins uncarved so that I can roast them without having to cut around jagged, shriveled edges or smoky bits blackened by flame. Cooking pumpkin from your jack-o-lantern is not good, but cooking from what I like to call my decorative pumpkins—which, like my decorative pillows, are not to be touched unless I say so—is a good thing.

The pumpkin hack begins right after Halloween and continues until they are all gone. This year, I plan on making this Pumpkin and Feta Risotto right away.

Buttery aborio rice allows lightly caramelized pumpkin to play the starring role in this meal. Feta cheese adds additional creaminess and a clean, salty counterpoint to the sweet pumpkin. Simple, easy flavors for a simple, easy meal.

Risotto? Easy? You read correctly. With a cook time of just about 20 minutes, risotto is a go-to meal in my house and should be in yours, too. The method is simple—here’s my recipe for basic risotto—and the dish is endlessly versatile. I cannot guarantee that you’ll end up with the perfect texture or a restaurant quality dish every time because so much goes into risotto, from the pot to the amount of time you commit to stirring. But even a multi-tasking, inexperienced home cook can whip up a decent risotto for a quick weeknight meal.

To make this risotto as easy as my basic version, roast the pumpkin while you’re watching television the night before you plan on serving this. Well, that’s what I do; you can roast this pumpkin at any point up to 5 days ahead of time. Once the roasted pumpkin cools, cover and store it in the fridge. When you start making the risotto, pull the pumpkin out of the fridge so that it can start moving towards room temp. Then the rest is a breeze.

When I’m feeling fancy, I garnish this risotto with pepitas (i.e., pumpkin seeds). You can buy pepitas or scoop them out of your pumpkin and dry them. To roast, toss pepitas with a very small amount of oil and salt and throw them in a warm oven until toasted and fragrant. Or you can go all out and make these addictive Sweet & Smoky Pepitas. Make them ahead and store them in an airtight container for about a week. Leftovers will become your favorite munchy snack. Just look!

OneHungryMama Sweet and Smoky Pepitas

Pumpkin and Feta Risotto
(Can be shared with kids 6+ mos)*
Serves 4-6

2 cups pumpkin that has been peeled and cut into 1-1 1/2″ cubes (about 1 medium pumpkin)
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for roasting pumpkin
6-8 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup diced onion (about 1 medium onion)
2 cups aborio rice
1/2 cup white wine (optional)
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Plain roasted or sweet & smoky pepitas, for garnish (optional)

1. Roast the pumpkin: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place pumpkin on a rimmed cookie sheet and toss with a healthy glug of olive oil and healthy sprinkle of salt. Roast until the pieces are just fork tender and caramelized in spots, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

2. In the meantime, heat stock to a simmer over medium flame then reduce heat to lowest setting to keep broth hot, but keep it from cooking off.

3. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and saute until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add rice, stirring to make sure that all of the grains get coated with oil, and cook until rice begins to turn translucent, about 2 minutes.

4. Add wine, if using. Cook until most of the liquid is absorbed.

5. Begin adding broth, 1/2 cup at a time. Stir constantly, waiting for each batch of broth to be about 3/4 absorbed before adding the next. (One way to tell if it’s time to add more broth: your spoon should leave a trail that holds for a moment as you drag it across the bottom of the pan.) Risotto is done when the rice is al dente—it should be cooked through but still have a tiny bite. You may not use all of the broth. Add the pumpkin at the same time as the third or second to last batch of broth so that the flavors incorporate.

6. Turn off heat. Stir in feta, and season with salt and pepper. When serving, garnish with a little extra crumbled feta and, if using, plain roasted or spiced pepitas.

*Note: This is a great early food for your beginner eater, just be sure to use pasteurized feta and puree into an age-approrpriate consistency, if necessary.

Leave a Reply