here comes the great pumpkin.

Here in Northern California, it’s starting to finally feel like fall. We had a bit of rain yesterday and this morning, and the leaves have started to shed off the trees in our courtyard, littering the ground with orange and red. I had just begun looking longingly at the stack of skinny jeans and my favorite pairs of boots – it had been so hot this summer that I had to buy shorts for the first time in 15 years. When I had to make a short trip into downtown San Francisco on Wednesday afternoon, I got to wear my favorite pair of flat black over the knee boots and a rain jacket I bought in France last year.
So what better flavor to kick off fall with than pumpkin? I always get super excited when it’s pumpkin season because the food is so comforting (and, not going to lie, I’m a complete basic with my love of pumpkin spiced lattes). Here’s a recipe I love to make when the weather starts to change – a risotto laced with pumpkin, bits of smoky pancetta, hints of sweet chestnut, and a touch of sage. Perfect on its own or as a side to a meat main!
pumpkin patch
Pumpkin Risotto with Chestnuts, Sage, and Bacon
1 small red kuri squash (also known as a red kabocha or potimarron)
Olive oil
Sea salt and ground black pepper
12 slices pancetta (or bacon)
2 ounces peeled cooked chestnuts (vacuum packed are fine), chopped
15 fresh sage leaves
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
3 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
5 small stalks celery, finely chopped
1 cup arborio rice
½ cup dry white wine
4 tablespoons butter
¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Halve pumpkin lengthwise, and remove seeds. Cut pumpkin into quarters, lightly oil them with either olive or avocado oil, and roast for 45 minutes, until the pumpkin is soft.  Remove pumpkin from oven and set aside. When it is cool enough to handle, scrape the flesh from 3/4 of the pumpkin and put into a small bowl.  Chop the last 1/4 so that it is still a bit chunky – this will give your dish a little bit of texture. (This pumpkin part can be done in advance to save time!)On the stovetop, cook the pancetta (or bacon) until crispy, drain, and chop into pieces. In a small bowl, add chopped chestnuts, sage, a tablespoon olive oil, and mix well with the crispy pancetta.

Place chicken stock in a small pan over medium-low heat. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to very low to keep warm. Place a large saucepan over medium heat, and add tablespoon olive oil, shallots, celery and a dash of salt. Stir, cover, and cook for 2 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high, and add rice. Stir constantly until rice is translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in wine until it is absorbed, 1 to 2 minutes.

Begin adding broth to rice, a ladleful at a time, stirring constantly. Allow each ladleful to be absorbed before adding next; process will take about 20 minutes. When ready, rice will be soft with a slight bite (al dente). Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Remove rice from heat. Add mashed pumpkin, and stir vigorously until mixed; fold in the rough chopped pumpkin. Mix in butter and Parmesan. Place a lid over the saucepan, and let sit for 2 minutes. To serve, place a portion on each of 6 serving plates. Top each portion with crumbled bacon, and sprinkle with mixture of chestnuts, sage. Add a dash more cheese, and serve immediately.

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fiendishly fond of cooking, SoulCycle, Pilates, green smoothies, and Korean spas.

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