Risotto is one of my favorite dishes to teach in my cooking classes (along with paella and pilaf) because it’s gotten a bad rap over the years for being time intensive and difficult. Patience is definitely one of the key ingredients, and one that I rarely have in Sam’s Club sized supply. So luckily this vegan pumpkin risotto is as easy as risotto gets, using canned pumpkin instead of fresh to throw a bone to my laziest cooking self.
What makes risotto actually a rather great beginner dish is the stirring. For those who have more experience, this can be a meditative thing. But for those with insecurity at the stove, the fact that you can’t stir too much is rather helpful.
You can always sniff out an insecure cook by the number of times they feel compelled to poke, prod, or move the food in the pan. Have you ever seen the macho guy on the grill who moves the burgers every 2 minutes? And/or smushes them down with his spatula after each flip, as if to make sure every ounce of natural juices are leached out over the flames? Yeah.
Their egos are clearly as delicate as filet, so it’s best to just grab a hot dog and let those burgers lie. But once the grill marks are retired for the season, you might want to suggest he try his hand at this easy pumpkin risotto.
I actually suggest a shrimp version in my cookbook in the Dating & Food section for the male cook. Since the recipe requires a little white wine at the beginning, he can sip the rest of the bottle to sooth those nerves while anxiously stirring, and you can do the same if you’re worried whether or not the meal will be edible.
If you’re unfamiliar with the basic cooking process, I talk about risotto technique here. In addition to summoning your patience, you have to trust your instincts. And if you’re insecure about whether those instincts exist, there’s no better dish to tear you away from the recipe page and force you to learn some.
The starch from the rice creates a nice creamy texture without having to use any milk or cheese to thicken it. Serve the vegan pumpkin risotto as a nice meatless weeknight main course or as a bed for something worthy of feeding your macho man. Just make sure you cook the meat yourself.
Vegan Pumpkin Risotto with Rosemary
- 1 quart vegetable stock
- 1 1/2 cups unsweetened pumpkin puree
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large leek pale green and white parts, thinly sliced
- 2 small shallots thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 teaspoon freshly chopped rosemary
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ cup white wine
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives or parsley
In a medium saucepan, whisk together the vegetable stock and pumpkin puree. Warm the mixture over low heat.
In a large Dutch oven or saucepan, heat the olive oil. Sauté the leeks and shallots over medium-high heat until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and rosemary and cook one minute more.
Stir in the rice and toast until the edges are opaque and the center pearly white, about 2 minutes. Add the wine and salt to the pan, scraping up any brown bits, and cook until reduced by half.
Add 1 cup of the pumpkin broth to the pan. Bring to a simmer, then turn the heat down to medium low and gently cook until nearly absorbed. Repeat this process, adding stock by ½ cup, until the rice is tender, about 25 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Stir in half the fresh herbs and garnish with the remaining.