Risotto is a fantastic dish for winter. Besides the fact that it’s creamy and comforting, it also is the perfect activity for a freezing January evening where the last thing you want to do is go back outside, and the act of slowly stirring over a hot stovetop is comforting in its ability to warm you as the rice thickens into the porridge like consistency risotto is known for.
Here we combine creamy pumpkin with the risotto, resulting in a lovely orange hue. To compliment the sweet earthiness of the vegetable, we add a hint of nutmeg. Though this risotto is fine as is, perhaps topped with a sprinkling of fresh parsley, take the time to sauté mushrooms in garlic, butter, and thyme and stir in mascarpone for an easy way to make it a hearty show-stopping meal.
Total time: 30 minutes
For the Pumpkin Risotto
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Small Onion, finely diced
1 cup Arborio Rice
1/2 cup White Wine
3-4 cups Chicken Stock
1 cup Pumpkin Puree
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
For the Mascarpone Mushrooms
1 Tbsp Butter
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1-2 Garlic Cloves, minced into a paste
1 Tbsp Fresh Thyme
16 oz. Fresh Mushrooms,any variety sliced
3-4 Tbsp Mascarpone Cheese
For the Risotto:
Bring the chicken stock to a simmer and turn the heat to low in a small saucepan.
In a large sauce pan, sauté the onion in olive oil until softened. Stir in the arborio rice and cook until lightly toasted, two to three minutes.
Stirring constantly, add in the white wine and cook until evaporated (if you don't have or don't want to use white wine, you can use just the stock. You can also use vegetable stock). Add in two cups of the chicken stock, one-half cup at a time, continuing to stir. At this point, add in the pumpkin puree and cook until thickened. Add in the rest of the stock, one-half cup of the time, tasting after each addition until it reaches the desired consistency. I like when the center is completely cooked through (test by tasting or smooshing a kernel on a cutting board), though some prefer a tiny bite in the center.
When the Risotto is about two-thirds done, make the Mascarpone Mushrooms.
For the Mascarpone Mushrooms:
Heat the butter and olive oil over medium-high heat until the butter is melted. Add the garlic cloves and thyme and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add in the mushrooms. Let cook, stirring occasionally, until well caramelized. If the pan gets too dry, add more oil.
Turn off the heat and stir in the mascarpone until well-distributed. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Top risotto with parmesan cheese and mascarpone mushrooms. Alternatively, you can stir the cheese and mushrooms throughout. Garnish with fresh parsley and a drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive OIl.