The pumpkin part is easy: Split the pumpkin (it's got to be a Sugar Pie Pumpkin) in half, scoop out the seeds and pulp, place cut side down in a roasting pan filled an inch of water. Bake at 350 degrees until skin starts to brown and flesh is easily pierced with a sharp knife. This is a great way to heat up your kitchen. Cool pumpkin, scoop out flesh, and run it through a food mill (my favorite) or food processor). This puree freezes well and is useful for all sorts of things like pies, breads, puddings, and . . . risotto.
I follow a pretty standard risotto non-recipe for all flavors of risotto: Make the risotto, stir in the flavoring ingredient, and simmer a little longer.
Saute the shallots in olive oil and butter. Add rice and saute some more. Add white wine and cook until absorbed.
Heat stock and ladle in to rice half a cup at a time.
Simmer while stirring until liquid is absorbed. Repeat, repeat, repeat until rice is tender. Stir in pumpkin puree and cheeses.
Fine—but how to get in the sage flavor that I wanted? I decided on a two-pronged attack. I added some chopped fresh sage with the pumpkin. And I also fried some sage in olive oil.
The fried sage was delicious and pretty topping the risotto, but the sage-infused olive oil drizzled over the top of the risotto was what gave it the extra sage flavor I wanted.
And did I mention how it made my house smell? All bad spirits have been banished.
PUMPKIN SAGE RISOTTO
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
4 shallots, minced
1-1/2 cup of arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
5 cups of stock
1 cup pumpkin puree
10 sage leaves, chopped
1/4 cup Parmesan, grated
1/2 Gruyere, grated
3 tablespoons olive oil, or more
salt to taste
Saute the shallots in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the butter until translucent. Add the rice, stir to coat and saute for 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook uncovered, stirring often until liquid is absorbed. Add 1/2 cup of stock, simmer until absorbed, and repeat until until the rice is tender. Add the pumpkin and the chopped sage and cook for a few minutes more, adding stock as necessary. Stir in the cheeses.
Heat the rest of the olive oil and saute sage leaves until the start to color. Watch them carefully—they go from just right to burned quickly. Drain on a paper towel.
Drizzle with sage-infused olive oil and garnish with crisp sage leaves.
Almost everything may still be green here in northern California, but there is finally a snap to the air. Fall is a time of relaxation and anticipation around here. We're done with summer camping and travels, and we're not yet to the ski season frenzy when it seems we're either coming or going and often unsure of which. I do a fall version of spring cleaning and indulge in a little nesting, knowing there will soon be no time for this. In the meantime, we're waiting.