Free the pumpkins! Let them flourish on the fields with their bright colors and funny shapes! Make kilos of pumpkin risotto! I love this time of the year, and I’m an enthusiast of this knotted, almost Jurassic vegetable. The pumpkin is versatile and healthy. It’s sweet but it doesn’t make you gain weight (thanks a lot). I mean, pumpkins are great! They should be honored with a sort of prize for the best vegetable of the year, or something like that.
Now that you’ve got the point – yes, I’m desperately in love with pumpkins – I would love sharing this recipe with you. It’s a quite traditional pumpkin risotto, but with a twist. In fact, to contrast its intense sweetness I’ll serve it with fried Tuscan kale, which has a bitter and salty flavor.
Tuscan kale is quite new on my table. As a matter of fact, I’ve started exploring its potentialities only recently. This type of kale is mostly used in Tuscany (duh…) and it’s the main ingredient of a traditional soup called Ribollita, with carrots, beans, Savoy cabbage and onions. I’ve made it, and it’s a fantastic soup. But these wrinkled leaves give excellent results also used as a side dish, with anchovies, garlic and chili, or to make pesto.
But fried…this is another story. Its flavor changes, it becomes more similar to cauliflower, but still keeping that elegant bitterness. You should try it. Believe me!
Pumpkin Risotto with Fried Tuscan Kale (4 servings)
240 gr. rice (arborio or vialone)
1 small onion
50 gr. unsalted butter
1 lt. broth
400 gr. pumpkin
4 small leaves Tuscan kale
50 gr. grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp. butter to make the rice creamy
the zest of a half lemon
a pinch of nutmeg
a few drops of balsamic vinegar (optional)
LET’S DO IT!
Bring the broth to a boil. Mince the onion and brown it with butter in a large casserole. Let it cook until it becomes transparent, then add the rice. Stir and toast it for about 3 minutes. Chop the pumpkin in very small pieces and add them to the rice. Mix the rice, adding a spoonful of broth at a time. The rice must absorb all the broth before you can add another spoonful of it.
While cooking the risotto, keep stirring: this will help releasing the starch that makes the risotto creamy. When the rice is cooked (not overcooked!), it’s time for the creamy-effect! Turn off the burner and add a bit of broth. Then add the lemon zest, the nutmeg, a tbsp of butter and the grated Parmesan cheese, then mix vigorously. Let it rest, covered, for 3 minutes. In the meantime, deep fry the Tuscan kale leaves in a casserole with sunflower oil.
Time to serve! Put the risotto in a soup plate, than arrange the fried Tuscan kale leaves on top of it and, if you like it, complete with few drops of balsamic vinegar. Enjoy!