Pumpkin and Mushroom Risotto


I considered tagging this recipe as one of my "Simple Weeknight Meals", but I think risotto would scare people off. I don't want to lose cred. So, I won't call this one a simple meal, even though it's super easy.

We spent this past weekend celebrating Brian's (30th!!) birthday in Paso Robles. He's an old man now, but that didn't stop us from having a good time. We spent Saturday roaming around the Paso wineries. We hit Cass (winery of a family friend that I would totally recommend), Tobin James (best place to get pretty toasted for free because they pour unlimited tastings) and last but not least, Turley. Turley was our favoritebecause we belong to their wine club and they were having a "pick up party" which meant lots of yummy food and tasting of reserve wines. We have so much wine now that our little San Fran apartment won't fit it all! Looks like we need to make some friends to help us drink it...

Anyways, after a long drive home on Sunday up the beautiful coast on the Highway 1, we needed a good home cooked meal. With very little in the fridge, we cooked up this great, fall meal. 

Pumpkin and Mushroom Risotto
makes 4-5 servings

1 cup Arborio rice
1 medium shallot (diced)
3 cloves garlic (minced)
1/2 lb cremini mushrooms (cleaned and quartered)
1/2 can pumpkin puree
5 lacinato kale leaves (stems removed and diced)
3 cups chicken broth (homemade or low sodium)
1 stick fresh rosemary
1/2 cup parmesan or Romano cheese (freshly grated)
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
salt and pepper

The key to making a quick risotto is getting the broth really hot before adding it to the rice. So rather than waiting for the broth to get hot to cook the rice, it's already hot and can start cooking the rice the moment it hits the pan. And for extra delicious risotto, I always add fresh herbs to the broth when it's heating up.

That's how this recipe starts. Add broth and sprig of rosemary to small sauce pan and heat over medium low heat. You don't want it to boil, but want it to be hot. You can forget about this for a while.

In a medium pot, heat butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add diced shallot and minced garlic. Let cook for 5 minutes. Add quartered mushrooms and crushed red pepper flakes. Let the mushrooms cook for about 10 minutes. Add a good dash of salt and pepper at the end of the 10 minutes.

Now add the Arborio rice. No liquid yet. Just add it to the mushrooms and give it a good stir. Doing this allows the rice to soak up the pan flavors before it starts cooking. Let cook for 3-4 minutes.

Now add the hot broth 3/4 cup at a time to the rice. Each time you add broth, add a scoop of pumpkin puree and a dash of salt and pepper. Yes, add salt every time. Let the broth absorb in the rice almost completely before adding the next ladle full.

When you have used all the broth, taste the risotto to make sure it had enough liquid to make the rice soft and creamy. If it needs more liquid still, add water.

After all the liquid has been added, add the kale and freshly grated cheese. Mix so the risotto gets even creamier, and the kale wilts. Make sure the kale is chopped into small pieces or it won't wilt fast enough.

Serve steaming hot on a cold fall night!

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