My sister in law and her husband love to cook. Not only they love to cook, they cook well! Last February when we were in Rome as their house guests, they cooked a dish of risotto for dinner and I swear, I was never a big fan of risotto but I fell in love at first bite! It had the most exquisite, delicate flavor and I couldn't put a 'tongue' on. So, shamelessly I asked what was the secret and they told me it was nutmeg!
When we came back, I tried to recreate the dish and serve it the the boys and Captain and the result was disastrous! It was bland, tasteless and simply bad. Earlier this month when my sister in law and husband came to Dubai to celebrate Easter with us, I shared my embarrassing experience with them and learned a few things. First, I used the wrong type of pumpkin. The correct one is the typical one we used to carve for Halloween (God knows what is the correct name). This pumpkin is naturally sweet and rich in flavor and instead I used the yellow type : ( Secondly, the amount of nutmeg I used was not sufficient enough. I used a pinch and since nutmeg has a delicate taste, it failed to stand out among other strong flavored ingredients like parmesan and the pumpkin itself!
Anyway, to make story short let me share with you the recipe for this dish which I tried making once again with a much better result! Clean plates this time : )
Risotto con Zucca
Ingredients (serves 3 - 4 people)
400 grams of pumpkin peeled and diced
1/2 of an onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, diced
1.5 liter of vegetable stock
300 grams of carnaroli rice
Extra virgin olive oil
30 grams of butter
Half a teaspoon of ground nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper
50 grams of grated parmesan cheese
Heat some extra virgin olive oil in a deep pan or skillet
Cook the pumpkin until soft, and put aside.
In the same pan, saute the onion and garlic until golden and soft.
Add in the risotto and stir well, letting all the flavor of onion, garlic and pumpkin to absorb by the risotto.
When the risotto started to turn transparent, return the pumpkin back to the pan and stir.
Lower down the heat and ladle in enough vegetable stock to cover the risotto. Stir gently just to make sure the stock is evenly distributed.
When the stock level drops, re-cover the risotto with more stock and continue this process for about 20 minutes or until the risotto is tender but still have a hint of texture to it.
Add in the nutmeg, salt and black pepper.
Quickly turn off the heat and add in the butter and 3/4 of the parmesan cheese and stir profusely to blend in the cheese and butter.
Serve immediately with grated parmesan
It is important to make sure that the pumpkin is soft. The pumpkin should melt in the risotto and in your mouth!