This pumpkin risotto recipe is delicious and creamy but actually contains no cream and is fabulously healthy.
Wondering what to do with leftover pumpkin? Have you made a pie and
have some cooked pumpkin left? Don’t worry if you haven’t, as you can
even use raw pumpkin in this dish and it will work out just as good.
Here’s what I did the other day. I had boiled up some pumpkin to make pumpkin pie bars and chocolate pumpkin cake. (Both of which were totally yum, by the way).
When I’d finished, I wondered what to do with a bowl of cooked pumpkin I had left, and it was getting on for lunchtime.
So, pumpkin risotto I thought. How hard can that be? Well, not hard at all actually. I had in the kitchen – half a left over roast chicken, some spring onions, a couple of large flat mushrooms, some brown rice and some cheddar cheese. And the bowl of cooked pumpkin of course. You can use white rice if you like, but I love the texture and flavour of brown rice and its much higher in fibre and good for you.
I covered the left over chicken carcass with boiling water from the kettle, bunged in a couple of chopped garlic cloves, a few bits of leftover veggies I had in the fridge (a bit of leek, carrot and cabbage) and brought it to the boil. (If you want to make a vegetarian version, you can do this without the chicken, substitute a homemade, or shop-bought vegetable stock. You can add some soya chunks, or cashews at the end instead of the chicken if you want to increase the protein content).
Meanwhile, I put some extra virgin olive oil in a large flat frying pan,
chopped the mushrooms and spring onions and fried them gently with some
more chopped garlic. When they had started to soften, I added about 8
handfuls of brown rice and stirred it around so it could pick up the
flavour. This makes about 4 servings and just fits into a large frying
Meanwhile the chicken was boiling nicely and creating some lovely stock.
I ladled some of the stock over the rice and left it to cook for a while. I repeated this process, adding more ladles of stock each time the rice had absorbed most of it.
With brown rice, this takes ages. It took almost an hour for the rice
to cook. I know that brown rice takes longer to cook in stock than in
plain water, so you could pre-cook the rice in a pan of boiling water
(about 30 minutes) or in a rice cooker. But when I tell you how
delicious this turned out and I think it might well be because it had so
long to absorb all the flavours of the stock, you will think it’s worth
it like me. But, if you’re short of time, you can use white rice – use
a good short grain risotto rice like Valencia. Then it should only
take about 20 minutes for the rice to be ready.
I picked out some of the chicken breast from the stock and shredded it into the risotto.
I added the pumpkin (about 2 small cups of cooked, roughly mashed pumpkin meat) right towards the end of the cooking, as it really only needed to heat through. It was already partially mashed, so it broke down quickly and gave a beautiful creamy texture and a rich warm orangy colour to the risotto.
As a final touch, I added about a cup of grated cheddar cheese and let
it melt before stirring it through. I'm sure it would be superb with
parmesan too, which would be more authentic Italian, but I didn't have
The flavour and texture of this was just wonderful. The brown rice gives it an extra nutty bite and I love it. The vintage cheddar cheese gave a depth and bite that was subtle and satisfying. It was absolutely worth the wait. I am definitely going to make this pumpkin risotto every time I boil up a chicken carcass now.
The added bonus was that I also had a big pan of chicken stock with chicken and vegetables still in it, which I made into soup.
I managed to put one portion of this wonderful pumpkin risotto in the freezer, and it froze well, but it didn’t stay there long. Just too tempting. I re-heated it straight in the microwave for about 4 minutes and it was good as new.