December 9, 2013 by Meg G.
Apples have become one of my favorite secret weapons. Just the other night, we made our apple + carrot soup. (Wowza, that was a good one!) Applesauce can save the day when you’re starving and looking for a quick banana bread recipe. And here, a couple of Granny Smith apples bring a surprising sweet-tart bite to this seasonal risotto, made with a *real* pumpkin from our CSA. Here goes!
- 3 lbs sugar pumpkin (or any winter squash)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 large sweet onions, thinly sliced
- 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
- 1/3 cup dry white wine
- 5 cups vegetable broth, kept warm on the stove top
- 2 green apples, peeled and diced into 1/4-inch chunks
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Chop the pumpkin in half and remove the seeds and stringy flesh with a spoon. Place pumpkin face down on a lightly oiled baking sheet and bake until easily pierced with a fork, about 35 minutes. Remove, let cool, then slice off the skin and chop into small pieces.
- While the pumpkin is baking, preheat a heavy-bottomed skillet over low heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and the 2 sliced onions, and toss to coat. Cover partially and cook for 20 minutes, leaving a small gap for steam to escape, stirring occasionally. The onions should turn a yellowish color. Remove the cover and turn heat up to medium, stirring often. Cook for 10 more minutes or until nicely caramelized and dark in color.
- Start the risotto right after beginning the onions. Keep the broth warming on the stove. Preheat a heavy, broad-bottomed skillet over medium heat (I prefer my cast iron). Sauté the onion, garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes in the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil for about 7 minutes, stirring often. Add the rice, and stir to coat. Add the wine, apples, and 1 ladle-full of broth. Stir until most of the broth is absorbed. Repeat this step, adding 1 ladle of broth at a time, stirring occasionally, until you have 1 cup left. It should take about 45 minutes. Add the pumpkin (it should be ready by this point) and the last ladle of broth and stir. When most of the liquid has been absorbed, add the nutmeg and cinnamon, and salt and pepper, to taste. Cook for 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Let sit for 10 minutes, then serve in bowls and top with caramelized onions.
This little dish was truly delicious. While the recipe strayed from our usual risotto go-to (the always reliable Martha Rose Schulman), the process is basically the same. The nutmeg, cinnamon, pumpkin, and caramelized onions create a rich, hearty, and slightly sweet flavor. And – it’s vegan!