Happy October and my first meatless Monday post in forever!
I was happily delighted when DailyBuzz Food gave me an opportunity to work with Rice Select for the Tastemaker program. The only catch, they would surprise me with a random rice product and I would have to prepare a cultural dish according to my selection. Luckily, I got one of my favorite selections and I have used this product several times in the past, Arborio Rice. Italian food is one of our favorite cuisines and I couldn't wait to cook something fantastic.
To celebrate the beginning of Fall, I wanted to incorporate one of my favorite things about Fall...pumpkins. I'm a crazy fanatic for everything pumpkin and I knew that I wanted to explore the savory side of pumpkin with one of my favorite comfort food dishes of risotto. If you are leary of using pumpkin, you can easily substitute butternut squash, or any other type of squash instead. Moreover, risotto is a perfect selection for our weekly meatless meal of the week, too.
Risotto is a just a fancy way of eating pasta. It takes a little effort and skill but it's so delicious. I wanted to host a simple Italian themed romantic dinner for my husband and I since we have been busy with our sweet 5 month year old. We have yet to have a date night and sometimes it's always easier to make date night work at home for you. This wonderful meal was meant to take us back to our favorite vacation, almost like an Italian getaway meal all at home.
Inspired from The Good Food of Italy
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1 sugar pumpkin
1 to 2 shallots, finely diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup dry white wine (Sauvignon Blanc)
1 1/2 cups Arborio Rice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, freshly grated
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
Fresh sage, finely chopped (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Peel the pumpkin, remove seeds and stringy bits and cut into small cubes. Place on a large baking sheet, adding a drizzle of olive oil on the pumpkin. Season with salt and pepper. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until tender. Remove from pan, and reserve about 3/4 cup of cubed pumpkin. Transfer the rest of the pumpkin to a food processor and puree until smooth. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan. Add the shallots and saute until soft. Bring the chicken stock and white wine to a boil in a large sauce pot. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and keep stock mixture hot.
Add the rice to the saucepan and cook for one minute. Immediately stir in 1 ladle of the hot stock and cook, stirring constantly, until all of the liquid has been absorbed. Keep repeating steps of adding hot stock to rice until the rice is cooked al dente, about 15 minutes. Stir in the pumpkin puree and cubed pumpkin. The risotto will be a little loose. Add the freshly grated nutmeg and taste for seasonings. Add salt and pepper. Fold in the butter and parmigiano and mascarpone cheese, and mix to combine.
Serve the risotto immediately. Garnish with fresh chopped sage.
Complete Meal Suggestions:
This meal made for a nice romantic dinner at home. I suggest playing the Smooth Jazz or Frank Sinatra station on Pandora. It will definitely set the mood!
Salad: Tomato Mozzarella & Asparagus Salad
Homemade Focaccia bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping
Favorite bottle of Italian Red wine
Dessert: Creamy Lemon Gelato or Lemon Sorbet and shots of Limoncello
For a fun trip back memory lane to our vacation in Italy, here's our vacation recaps: Italy 1 (Naples, Pompeii & Sorrento), Italy 2 (Florence, Chianti, Greve), Italy 3 (Orvieto, Siena), and Italy 4 (Rome).
This post is brought to you by Rice Select.