I’ve been craving risotto and it seemed like the perfect time of the year to make pumpkin risotto. Arborio rice, or risotto rice, is naturally gluten-free and cooks up like pasta (think orzo, but creamy), so it’s a perfect ingredient to use. Initially, I wanted to make it in a crock pot because it’s supposed to be so simple and I wanted to do a practice run before I tried to make it that way for other people. Making risotto on the stove top really isn’t that difficult, but it is a little time-consuming because you have to stir it often and add small amounts of broth at a time I thawed a pack of Apple and Gouda Chicken Sausages (from Costco) to add meat because Lo isn’t a big fan of meatless options.
I didn’t really have a plan for when I was going to make it, but we didn’t eat breakfast on Saturday morning and I decided that it would be the perfect filling lunch option. Since I didn’t plan ahead, I didn’t have time to make it in the slow cooker, so I still need to try out that option another day (good thing I bought two boxes of arborio rice!). Here’s the recipe for the slow cooker pumpkin risotto I was going to make – but I ended up just mixing up a few recipes and throwing in my own stuff. I think I’d like to make this again for Thanksgiving, and the crock pot version will be perfect so I don’t have to take up extra burner space at my mom’s house. (The pic below is a little blurry because it’s so steamy).
- 2-3 tablespoons butter, coconut oil or preferred oil
- 1/2 of a sweet onion, finely chopped (chop the whole thing and freeze or refrig the other half for a future meal)
- 1 cup chopped red peppers (I used a frozen blend)
- 2-3 cloves chopped garlic
- couple handfuls of kale or spinach, if desired
- chopped sun-dried tomatoes, if desired
- 4 cooked chicken sausages, sliced
- 1 1/2 cups arborio rice (I buy mine at Trader Joes)
- 3/4 cup dry white wine (I used leftover Chard that I had in the fridge and drank the rest)
- About 5-6 cups of hot chicken stock or vegetable stock (keep on a burner on low)
- salt and pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- crushed red pepper flakes or preferred seasoning
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
- 2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces, optional
In a medium-size heavy saucepan, heat the first measurement of butter or oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, peppers, and garlic and saute, stirring continuously, just until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the rice and continue to stir, using a wooden spoon, to coat the rice with the oil.
Add the white wine and continue cooking, stirring often, until it has been absorbed by the rice. Immediately stir in 1 cup of the hot stock and the sun-dried tomatoes, and cook, stirring constantly, until all of the liquid has been absorbed, about 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, and gradually add 2 more cups of the hot stock, 1 cup at a time, stirring and cooking until each cup is almost absorbed before adding the next, 10 minutes. Stir in the kale or spinach, thyme, red pepper flakes, sausages, and pumpkin puree. Continue adding the remaining 2 cups stock, 1 cup at a time, stirring and cooking as above, until the rice is tender, about 10 minutes longer. The risotto will be loose but should still be al dente and not mushy, with a little bite. Stir in the cheese and the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Serve immediately.
Everyone really enjoyed this and I will definitely be making it again. Risotto is definitely best served immediately. This recipe made 4 lunch portions (us and two friends) and two more that we ate today. If you don’t need that many servings and you don’t like leftovers, you should reduce the recipe or invite friends over!
While I was making the risotto, I was thinking about how we were going to dinner that night at Alanas, which is one of the best restaurants in Columbus that changes the menu every day and sources as much local food as possible, and I realized that there would probably be an amazing risotto on the menu and that today probably wasn’t the best day to have risotto for lunch. Of course, there was a butternut risotto with leeks and bacon on the menu, but I went with the Short Ribs and Turnip in Gruyère fondue, and it was phenomenal, so no harm done by having risotto for lunch. If you live in Columbus or ever visit Columbus, make reservations at Alana’s for a unique dining experience – seriously, they have menu choices called “A Surprise” or “Vegetarian Surprise” – and even the servers don’t know what the diners will get. I didn’t have the option of ordering that because they weren’t able to tell me whether it would be gluten-free or not, but Lo got it and it was Tournedos of Beef, which I’ve never heard of but just looked it up and it looks (and he said it was) amazing. I didn’t taste his just in case the gravy wasn’t gluten-free. Another great thing is that they have an extensive wine list and sell the wine at retail pricing plus a $5 corking fee. I’m ashamed that this is my first time dining at Alanas, but I will definitely want to go again for a special occasion. It’s a little pricey, but TOTALLY worth it.