Pumpkin Risotto with Fried Sage, Pine Nuts, and Balsamic Reduction

Pumpkin Risotto with Fried Sage, Pine Nuts, and Balsamic ReductionI know my last few food posts have all involved pumpkin, but that’s because I love it! Pumpkin is quintessentially fall and it tastes so good! For the most part, I tend to use pumpkin for sweeter foods (pumpkin bread, cookies, pie, etc), but I wanted to try a more savory pumpkin recipe. I came across a recipe for risotto using butternut squash, fried sage, pine nuts, and a balsamic glaze and decided I could easily adapt it to use pumpkin instead. My parents love risotto and my dad had been asking me when I was going to come over and cook him dinner again, so we decided to try this recipe. Risotto is one of those foods that seems very daunting to make but it’s actual pretty easy. It’s not as difficult and hands-on as its made out to be (you don’t have to stir it constantly and it’s not going to be ruined if you add the chicken broth at the wrong time). Risotto is a good, filling food and it is so easy to change a few ingredients and get a completely different flavor. This Pumpkin Risotto with Fried Sage, Pine Nuts, and Balsamic Reduction is a great twist on a classic recipe.

Adapted from Love and Olive Oil.

Pumpkin Risotto with Fried Sage, Pine Nuts, and Balsamic Reduction

4 cups chicken stock, plus water as needed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic
3-4 fried sage leaves
1 cup arborio rice
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 can canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup grated Asiago cheese, divided
salt
black pepper

Toppings:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
12-14 fresh sage leaves
1/4 cup pine nuts
Balsamic reduction (you can make your own by reducing balsamic vinegar with a little brown sugar, or you can buy balsamic reduction at the grocery store)

Heat chicken stock in a small saucepan over low heat. Keep warm.

fried sageWhile chicken stock is heating, use a small skillet to fry the sage. Fill pan with enough olive oil to form a 1/4 inch layer. Heat skillet over medium heat until oil is hot and shimmering. Carefully add 4-5 sage leaves at a time and cook for about 30 seconds (until they are crunchy and stop crackling). Using a slotted spoon, remove the leaves from the oil and place them on a plate lined with paper towels to cool. Repeat with remaining leaves (I just bought a package of sage and cooked all of the leaves).

Pumpkin Risotto with Fried Sage, Pine Nuts, and Balsamic ReductionFor the risotto, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add garlic and break apart 3-4 of the fried sage leaves and add them as well. Saute for a couple of minutes so the flavors can blend together. Add rice and saute for about 2 minutes until it begins to smell slightly nutty and is coated in oil.

Pumpkin Risotto with Fried Sage, Pine Nuts, and Balsamic ReductionAdd wine and stir until it is completely absorbed. Add 1/2 cup of the warm chicken broth to the rice. Stir occasionally until the liquid is mostly absorbed, then add 1/2 cup more and repeat. Continue to add broth until rice is almost completely cooked and creamy, about 20-25 minutes (sometimes more or less, I like my risotto fairly soft but not overcooked). If you run out of chicken stock before it is done, add hot water instead.

Pumpkin Risotto with Fried Sage, Pine Nuts, and Balsamic ReductionWhen rice is almost done, add the pumpkin. Stir until fully mixed. Continue to cook until rice is fully done and pumpkin is warm. Add butter and stir until melted. Turn off burner and add Asiago cheese, stirring until fully mixed. Add salt and pepper to taste. Divide among plates and top with fried sage, pine nuts, and a drizzle of balsamic reduction.

Pumpkin Risotto with Fried Sage, Pine Nuts, and Balsamic ReductionWe ate our Pumpkin Risotto with Fried Sage, Pine Nuts, and Balsamic Reduction as a main dish with salad and bread, but this would also work as a side dish and it would be great for a non-traditional Thanksgiving meal. This risotto had a nice creamy flavor with a little sweetness from the balsamic reduction. The fried sage was a great touch and the pine nuts added a little texture. As good as this was the first night, it was even better as leftovers. Seriously, it was so good that next time I will make this a day early just so I can heat it up for lunch or dinner. The flavors really melded together and it was delicious!

-Molly

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