Creamy pumpkin risotto with crispy haloumi pops and spicy chilli syrup is a wonderfully warming, comforting and impressive recipe.
There are few things that scream “COMFORT FOOD” as much as a creamy, dreamy pumpkin risotto but I just couldn’t resist making it a few days ago. Even though we were having a really warm day, the repetitive motion of adding hot stock to a barely simmering pot of arborio rice was just too tempting. Not to mention sitting down to a hug-in-a-bowl. Which is exactly what this pumpkin risotto is. I flavoured the stock with fresh thyme and rosemary and added a bay leaf and this resulted in the stock taking on a seriously savoury flavour. Don’t you just love herbs?
To add a little textural interest, I decided to add a few cubes of fried haloumi because first of all cheese makes everything better. But also because I love that they added a milky squeakiness (admittedly not the most charming of descriptions) to the finished risotto. To emphasize the natural sweetness of the roasted pumpkin, I made a syrup which was flavoured with red chilli and a splash of lemon juice.
I finished the risotto off with a generous grating of aged Parmesan (because again: Cheese) and that was it. Sure, risotto takes a little effort but in essence it is so simple and so absolutely worth the 20-odd minutes you have to stand stirring the pot. Plus, for me that stirring is 20 minutes out of my day that I can just zone out and focus on nothing. Except creating this insanely delicious risotto.
How do I make pumpkin risotto?
Pumpkin risotto is made by cooking onions and garlic until soft then adding Arborio or Carnaroli rice, wine, pumpkin puree and stock. It’s important to incorporate the stock slowly so that the rice has chance to release its creamy starches. This is what gives risotto its characteristic soft and creamy texture. The risotto can be finished with grated Parmesan and cubes of roasted pumpkin or any other toppings you fancy.
What rice to use in risotto?
Arborio or Carnaroli rice is traditionally used. Short-grain rice is best for risotto as it releases starch as it cooks, resulting in a luscious silky, creamy texture.
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Roasted pumpkin risotto with haloumi pops and chilli syrup
for the roasted pumpkin
- 3 cups cubed pumpkin/butternut squash
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- salt to taste
for the risotto
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves thinly sliced
- 500 g Arborio rice
- 1 cup white wine
- 4 cups vegetable stock with 3 sprigs fresh thyme 1 sprig fresh rosemary and a bay leaf
- pumpkin puree
- roasted pumpkin cubes
- 1 tablespoon butter
- salt & pepper to taste
- handful Parmesan grated
for the haloumi pops
- 150 g haloumi cheese cubed
- oil for frying
for the chilli syrup
- 3 tablespoons water
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 red chilli sliced
- salt to taste
- 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Pre-heat the oven to 200°c and place the pumpkin on a baking sheet.
- Drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt and place in the oven. Allow to roast for 30-40 minutes until the pumpkin is cooked and is starting to caramelise.
- Remove then puree half of the pumpkin. Set aside.
- To make the risotto, fry the onion in a splash of olive oil in a large frying pan.
- When the onion is soft, add the garlic and fry for another 20 seconds or so then add the rice. Stir to coat th rice in the oil and aromatics then add the wine. Allow the wine to reduce then stir the pumpkin purée through the stock. Stir in the stock, ladle by ladle. Allow the rice to absorb the stock before adding more and stir continuously. It is this continuous stirring that creates the creaminess risotto is known for.
- While you are making the risotto, combine all the ingredients for the syrup and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- When the risotto has absorbed approximately half of the liquid, start tasting it regularly as a good risotto can quickly be ruined by over cooking. Your risotto might also not need all the stock or it might need more, it all depends on the rice's absorbency.
- Heat a splash of oil in a frying pan and fry the haloumi until golden brown. Remove from the pan and drain on kitchen paper.
- When the risotto is done to your preference, beat in the butter and Parmesan and season to taste. Stir in the reserved cubes of butternut.
- Serve the risotto drizzled with the chilli syrup and topped with a few haloumi pops. Finish with an extra grating of Parmesan cheese.