From my blog (Stephencooks.com), September 11, 2006: This week's CSA share contained, as expected, a bonanza of tomatoes, as well as squash, cucumbers, carrots, brocolli, mesclun greens, edamame, garlic, peppers, Thai basil, watermelon, beets and radishes! Oh wait, I forgot to mention the big prize: a beautiful 2 lb Long Island Cheese Pumpkin! This is an heirloom pumpkin that is prized for pies.
When Elise saw the pumpkin she immediately said the magic words: "Ummm! Make some pumpkin risotto?" so, since I love cooking to request, pumpkin risotto immediately went on the schedule.
As I thought about making this risotto I remembered that the last pumpkin risotto I'd made was a little disappointing because while it tasted good and was a bright pumpkin color, the pumpkin texture was totally obscured by the cooking process, so I made some adjustments: the pumpkin was cut in larger pieces and then partially cooked ahead of time, with some onions and wine, and added halfway through the cooking. This was a success, as the pumpkin pieces were just cooked through when the dish was done, and they held their shape and texture nicely.
pumpkin, peeled, seeded, cut in 1" chunks
Place the olive oil in a pan with the pumpkin, half the onion, the sea salt, the garlic and the nutmeg and sauté slowly, stirring occasionally, for about five minutes until the pumpkin starts to soften. Add the wine and continue to cook slowly for another 15 or so minutes, stirring occasionally. The pumpkin should be firm but nearly cooked. Remove from heat and set aside and keep warm.
Place a cup of the chicken broth in a small saucepan, bring to a simmer and add the cherry tomatoes. Remove from heat and stir in a tablespoon of the butter and half the minced herbs. Set aside and keep warm.
Bring the remaining chicken broth to a slow simmer.
Place 3 tablespoons of the butter in the risotto pot with the rice and the remaining onion. Sauté slowly until the rice starts to color and the onion is translucent. Add 2 cups of the broth to the risotto pot and adjust heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook, stirring, for about 10 minutes, adding more broth as it is absorbed by the rice.
Add the cooked pumpkin and onion and their liquid to the risotto pot and continue cooking another 8 or 9 minutes, adding liquid as necessary and stirring constantly, until the rice is firm but no longer chalky at its core. (Some of the broth may be left over when it's done.)
When the risotto is nearly finished, add 2 tablespoons of the remaining butter and most of the remaining herbs. Correct the seasoning.
To serve, give the risotto one final stir to blend in the butter and then place a mound in the center of each flat bowl. Add a spoonful or two of the tomato broth around the mounds and place a few of the tomatoes in the resulting moats. Scatter with the remaining herbs and garnish with sage leaves if desired. Serve the cheese on the side.