Pumpkin risotto with thyme
This succulent cold-weather dish gets an extra burst of flavor from fresh thyme leaves added to enhance the pumpkin. Serve it as a first course or as a main dish preceded by a harmonious starter — for example, prosciutto with figs or a simple mesclun salad.
As always, it’s worth taking the time to make the broth yourself. A classic risotto uses chicken broth. For a vegetarian version, make a vegetable broth instead. For a vegan version, substitute olive oil for the butter and omit the cheese.
3-4 cups (1 liter) homemade chicken broth or vegetable broth
1 pound (500 g.) fresh pumpkin, rind on
1 medium onion
2 ounces (50 g.) parmesan cheese, ungrated
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup (200 g.) Italian arborio rice or another risotto rice
1/2 cup (12 cl) dry white wine
1/2 tsp. sea salt or table salt
2-3 branches fresh thyme
2 ounces (50 g.) unsalted butter
freshly ground black pepper
Begin by making the broth. This may be done in advance.
Next, prepare the pumpkin. Remove the seeds and stringy fibers and cut away the rind. Chop into cubes. Steam until tender, about 20 minutes. Set aside a couple of the cooked cubes to use as decoration. Place the rest on a plate and mash with a fork.
Peel and finely chop the onion. Grate the parmesan.
Heat up the broth and have it standing ready.
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the olive oil to sizzling. Turn down the heat, add the onion and gently sauté, stirring, until it has wilted, about 5 minutes.
Add the rice and stir well to coat it with the olive oil. When the rice becomes translucent, add the wine. Allow the wine to evaporate, then ladle in about 2 cups (50 cl) of hot broth.
Cover and cook for 10 minutes over low heat. Add the mashed pumpkin, the salt and another cup of broth. Cook for 5 minutes more.
While the risotto is cooking, pull the little leaves off the thyme branches. Cut the reserved cooked pumpkin cubes into small dice.
Check the rice. If all the liquid has been absorbed, add a little more hot broth. Add the thyme leaves, setting aside a few for decoration.
Turn off the heat. Grind on some black pepper. Add the parmesan and the butter but do not mix. Simply cover the pan and let it sit for 2 minutes.
Now mix the risotto, lifting the rice to blend well with the other ingredients. Ladle into shallow bowls and decorate each one with the reserved thyme leaves and diced pumpkin. Serve piping hot. Serves 4 as a starter, 3 as a main dish.