This pumpkin risotto is a great way of using up all the extra pumpkin lying around in your fridge. I love how risottos make a warm comforting meal in the cold weather. This recipe is made with barley and instead of the usual risotto rice, making it healthier and quick to cook.
In the picture below, I have added chunks of mozzarella and smoked scarmorza cheese. However, you could use parmesan cheese instead. Adding fresh thyme or rosemary, adds a beautiful earthy aroma. Feel free to add in some bacon or cooked ham for added flavor.
What you need-
Putting it together-
Soak barley for 30 minutes to an hour. Rinse and parboil with double the quantity in a saucepan for 10-15 minutes, on high heat. Drain and save 1 cup of the water.
Drizzle the pumpkin cubes with olive oil, salt & pepper. Preheat the oven to 220 C for 5 minutes. Place the pumpkin cubes on a baking tray with a sprig of thyme or rosemary and roast for 30 minutes till brown outside and soft inside. Cool and blend into a smooth puree. Add a tbsp. of water if needed. Keep aside.
Boil a litre of water and keep simmering on low heat on one side.
In a skillet, saute the onions & garlic with 1 tsp butter and 1 tsp olive oil. Add some chilli flakes and thyme or rosemary. Add the drained barley and cook for a 30 seconds.
Add the white wine and cook for another minute.
Add one cup of hot water from the simmering pan and 1/2 cup of the starchy water from the barley along with a tsp of salt and freshly crushed pepper. Cover and cook on a medium flame. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of starchy water and more hot water until the barley is soft and chewy. Cook open so the water can evaporate. When cooked 3/4th of the way (10-15 mins), stir in the pumpkin puree and simmer on low heat for 2-3 minutes. Add more hot water, if required, to maintain a fluid consistency. Keep stirring to release the starch from the grains.
Cook till the texture is smooth & creamy. Adjust taste for salt and pepper and chilli.
Take off the heat. Add 1 tsp butter & 1/4th cup Parmesan cheese or feta. Lightly combine.
Garnish with chopped parsley and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
You can make extra roasted pumpkin and use the leftovers in these dishes:
1. Roast Pumpkin Hummus
2. Pumpkin Pita Pockets
3. Pumpkin, Saffron and Orange Soup
For more Italian mains, check out these recipes:
1. Vegetarian Lasagna
2. Gnocchi with Eggplant
3. Spaghetti Al Pomodoro