Rich and creamy pumpkin and root vegetable risotto, served in charming mini pumpkin bowls – perfect for an autumn weekend and Halloween festivities.
Aaaahh, it is that time of the year… While some folks can’t get enough of the sunny days of summer, and others revel in the snow and coziness of winter, my heart belongs to the enchanting embrace of autumn and the whimsy of Halloween. This season is utterly magical, and it’s my favorite time of the year. I love how it transitions from festive October and Halloween, building the excitement towards another round of gourmet parties during Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
I absolutely adore these little pumpkins, and you can find them in every supermarket during the autumn and Halloween season! I’ve got a fantastic dish for you and it’s incredibly versatile. A very tasty Halloween pumpkin risotto! You can whip up a meaty version or keep it veggie-focused, no fuss at all. Serve the risotto in these cuties! It’s not just a brilliant way to get your little ones to gobble up their veggies, but also a fantastic showstopper for impressing your friends and guests. 🎃
- pumpkin – The recipe calls for mini pumpkins because they are used as bowls to serve the risotto. However, you can prepare this dish with just one type of pumpkin of your choice or a variety of pumpkins or squash. I chose a variety, for a blend of autumn hues and different textures and flavours, along with some root vegetables. Hokkaido pumpkin and Kabocha are the best choices in my opinion.
- root vegetables – You can use different root vegetables, and I suggest not skipping carrots for their sweetness. To give it an earthy taste, add parsnips as well.
- rice – When it comes to making a delicious risotto, the preferred choice is Arborio rice, known for its ability to create that creamy texture. However, feel free to experiment with different rice varieties while keeping the key objective in mind: achieving that wonderfully creamy risotto. You might want to avoid long-grain rice varieties like Basmati or Jasmine. The long-grain rice doesnt release starch as readily as Arborio, making it more challenging to achieve the desired creamy consistency in your risotto.
- pumpkin – instead of pumpkins you can prepare this risotto using an assortment of root vegetables, such as carrots, parsnips, sweet potato, and chanterelle mushrooms.
- bacon – For a non-vegetarian version, you have the option to replace bacon with sliced or chopped cured sausages, as well as chopped rash bacon or cubetti pancetta.
- root vegetables – While I wouldn’t recommend replacing all the root vegetables, I suggest keeping carrots for their sweetness. However, you can certainly enhance this dish by adding some chopped leafy greens, such as chard or spinach. Alternatively, you can incorporate pre-cooked (tinned) beans of your choice for added variety.
- mushrooms – I decided to include mushrooms primarily for their visual impact, creating an orange and black combination perfect for Halloween. Of course, they also contribute a delightful earthy flavour to the dish. However, feel free to omit them entirely, or for a fun Halloween effect, you can replace them with roasted beetroot, giving your risotto a ‘bloody’ twist, so to speak! :))
- spices – When it comes to spices, you have the freedom to tailor it to your liking. Instead of nutmeg, cloves, or paprika, which may not suit everyone’s taste, although their combination in this dish is subtle and flavourful, you can introduce turmeric for an appealing colour boost. Or, consider adding curry for a spicier and warmer twist. For those who adore heat, feel free to include chili, either powdered or in pieces, or fresh ones when serving.
Cooking & Tips
Feel free to skip the mini pumpkins in your shopping list, as they were specifically chosen to create the pumpkin bowls. Instead, pick a pumpkin of your liking for this risotto. Pumpkins are typically baked to make it easier to scoop out the flesh, and this baking process also enhances the flavour. For this recipe, with mini pumpkin bowls, you’ll need to remove the flesh from uncooked ones, which can be a bit more challenging.
If you are not preparing mini pumpkin bowls;
Whichever pumpkin you go for, simply cut it into slices or wedges, drizzle with either sunflower or olive oil, and sprinkle with salt before baking at 200°C for approximately 20 minutes to make scooping out the flesh really easy!
Once your pumpkin is baked and your pumpkin pulp is ready, you can proceed with the recipe.
Pumpkin that’s been pre-baked should be introduced to the risotto roughly 5-7 minutes before the end of the cooking process.
However, if you’re following the recipe with uncooked pumpkin, you will cook the pumpkin flesh along with the other root vegetables until soft.
This recipe is highly adaptable and can be made vegetarian by omitting the bacon. In fact, you can prepare it with various vegetables, even skipping the pumpkin, for a quick vegetarian risotto. This is a one-pot meal . Rice is cooked with the vegetables, until liquid evaporates. It’s important to keep a close eye on the dish to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom. To simplify, you can pre-cook the rice and add to the pot 5 minutes before vegetables are done.
- sweet paprika – Infusing a gentle warmth and rich colour into the dish.
- nutmeg – Adding a hint of nuttiness and depth to the flavour.
- cloves – Bringing a touch of aromatic and earthy spiciness to enhance the overall taste
- Parmesan cheese – Add it at the end of cooking for that irresistible creamy finish and a burst of cheesy goodness
When it comes to crafting the perfect autumn or Halloween pumpkin risotto, the richness and warmth of the spices are absolutely essential.
Presentation & Serving
This dish can be enjoyed as a hearty main course or as a side dish with your favourite meat.
Embrace the autumn and harvest season, have a fa-boo-lous Halloween!
Autumn Pumpkin Risotto
- 1 cup Arborio rice - standard coffee mug, 200ml approx
- 3 small pumpkins of your choice - size of a standard pasta bowl
- 1 cup mixed mushrooms
- 2 carrots
- 1 parsnip
- 1 sweet potato - medium size
- 1 onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 3-4 tbsp cream
- 40 g grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 stock cubes – chicken or vegetable
- olive oil
- 4 tbsp parsley
- 2-3 tsp ground sweet paprika
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp cloves
- 1 tsp freshly ground pepper
- salt - to taste
Optional ( for non-vegetarian version )
- 1/2 cup chopped cured sausage or bacon
MINI PUMPKIN BOWLS
- Rinse the pumpkins with water and pat them dry.
- If the pumpkin doesn’t have a flat bottom and doesn’t sit properly, then cut a small part, being careful not to cut too much, just a thin layer to even out the bottom.
- Now, cut off the lid. Be cautious as pumpkins are very hard; use an extremely sharp knife.
- Scoop out the center with the seeds using a spoon.
- Carefully cut the inside of the pumpkin with a small sharp knife, making the bowl thinner. Afterward, use a large spoon to scrape the bottom and the sides. Save the bits of pumpkin for the risotto.
- Pumpkin bowls are now ready for serving. Keep them at room temperature while preparing risotto.
- In a larger pot, add oil and sauté onions, vegetables chopped into small pieces, finely chopped bacon or sausages ( if making non-vegetarian version), and the pumpkin. Sauté for about 7 minutes. Then add mushrooms and garlic and continue to sauté for about 2-3 minutes.
- Add rice and dry sauté for 1-2 minutes, then pour in water (around 600ml-800ml), add a stock cube, salt, all the other seasonings, and one-third of the parsley. Cook over medium heat with occasional stirring to prevent rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- When the water is halfway reduced, add another one or two cups and continue cooking. Add more water as needed. When the rice is almost cooked, should be "al dente", stop adding water and let it finish cooking in the remaining liquid to thicken the risotto.
- In the last 5 minutes of cooking, add cream and half of the grated Parmesan. Season well with black pepper.
- When it's ready, remove from the heat and stir in the remaining parsley.
- Let it sit for 10 minutes and then serve in those cute pumpkin bowls. 🙂