I don’t know how this happened, but this is the last week of November. I swear just a minute ago I was floating in our boat in the sunshine drinking a cold beer and thinking to myself, soon it will be Christmas. And here we are.
Whenever I look at my calendar my core floods with panic, because holy crap there are NOT enough hours in the day. There are not enough days left in the year! Seriously, soon it will be Christmas!
But first, Thanksgiving. Or as I like to call it, Yankee Thankee, since I already had a proper Thanksgiving back in October. And by proper I mean I ate pumpkin pie, because pretty much nobody celebrates Canadian Thanksgiving here in Sweden. American vs Canadian Thanksgiving and the legitimateness of my Thanksgiving in October is an ongoing subject of debate between one of my dear friends and I. I maintain that even though Thanksgiving in November (and on a Thursday!) will forever be strange for me, I’ve got love and thanks a plenty for two Thanksgivings, especially if it means more pie.
I know this is a week filled with food and festivity for many of you, so I thought I’d share something nice, easy, and nourishing today with this baked pumpkin risotto.
If you’re still frantically trying to think of dishes for your Thanksgiving table, this is the one. If you’re looking for something to do with that one last can of pumpkin puree, this is the one. If you just want something tasty for dinner that doesn’t require a lot of work and is creamy and delicious in spite of being good and nutritious, this is the one.
This recipe is a far cry from a traditional risotto, let’s be straight about that. It uses short-grain brown rice as opposed to the usual arborio. It’s a whole lot healthier but it also requires a bit of prep work – the rice is par-cooked before it meets the main risotto dish, which means dirtying up an extra pot. For that I’m sorry, but don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of time to wash it while the risotto is baking in the oven and you’re NOT standing there stirring all the live long day.
Also, I make my risottos with white vermouth instead of white wine. I’m not much of a white wine drinker except for on a hot summer day, and an open bottle of vermouth will last pretty much forever so I know I’ll always have some handy for cooking (plus, dirty martinis). If you don’t have vermouth on hand you can of course use white wine instead, but I encourage you to give the vermouth thing a try. It’s got a great complex flavour that goes well in a risotto or pasta sauce or whatever it is you’re cooking that calls for white wine.
I bring this dish together in a big, shallow cast iron casserole dish, which means I can start it on the stovetop and then throw the whole thing into the oven. If you don’t have such a casserole dish or similar (a Dutch Oven works well) you can start this risotto on the stovetop and then transfer the mixture to a 9×13 casserole dish when it goes into the oven. It’ll mean washing an extra dish, but it’ll be worth it.
Pumpkin, and other yellow fleshed winter squash, are jam packed full of carotenes, which is the compound ultimately responsible for their colour, and also is a pre-cursor to Vitamin A (you need that so you can see). Pumpkin also contains a good dose of fibre, potassium, vitamin C, and manganese.
Brown rice is a source of dietary fiber, manganese, selenium, magnesium, and tryptophan. Did you know that the process of converting brown rice to white rice destroys 60 – 80% of the vitamins and minerals, and all of the dietary fiber and essential fatty acids? Think of white rice like cake, it’s a special occasion food and should be eaten in moderation. Brown rice, on the other hand, is a whole food with a myriad of health benefits from colon health to cholesterol lowering. You can have your cake and eat it too!
- 2 cups short grain brown rice
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 ¾ cups pumpkin puree (one 425g can)
- ¼ tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- ¾ cup white vermouth or white wine
- 5 cups vegetable broth, hot
- Parmesan cheese for serving (optional, but highly recommended)
- Preheat your oven to 200°C / 400°F.
- Bring a medium-sized pot of water to the boil, add some salt, and then stir in the brown rice. Reduce the heat to medium and allow it to simmer for 15 minutes.
- While the rice is cooking, heat a 30cm / 12 inch cast-iron casserole dish over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, and then the diced onion.
- Cook the onion, stirring occasionally, until it has softened and is beginning to turn golden brown.
- Add the garlic, and sauté for another few minutes until the garlic is slightly browned as well.
- Add the vermouth to deglaze the pan, stirring to lift up any browned bits that are stuck to the pan, and then remove from the heat.
- Drain the rice well, and then add it to the dish with the onions.
- Stir in pumpkin puree, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Stir the mixture to combine well, and then spread it out in an even layer in the casserole dish.
- Pour the hot broth over top of the rice mixture, but do not stir. Transfer carefully to the oven, as your dish may be very full. (Alternatively, I like to put the casserole dish into the oven and then pour the broth over top).
- Bake, uncovered for 40 minutes.
- When you remove the dish from the oven there will still be a layer of liquid sitting on top. This will continue to absorb as it cools.
- Allow the risotto to stand uncovered for 15 minutes, and then, give it a good stir. The rice should be fully cooked, and the risotto quite creamy.
- Serve hot with lots of freshly grated Parmesan or nutritional yeast to keep it vegan.
-If you don't have a cast iron casserole dish or Dutch oven you can cook the onions and garlic on the stovetop, then mix everything together in a large bowl and spread into a buttered 9x13 casserole dish for baking.