Vegan pumpkin risotto

squashrisotto

Oh, this dish just oozes comfort and joy for the fall and winter season. It’s creamy, sweet, satisfying and impresses the heck out of people you serve it to.

So, think your risotto won’t be any good without cheese or butter? Try this!

If you have 30 to 90 minutes you have time to make this dish and wow yourself and a friend. The risotto takes just 30 minutes to make, but you do need about 40 minutes to roast the pumpkin or squash, which you can do the day before.

Making risotto is a bit of an exercise in faith. You just have to believe it’s going to work because halfway through the process, the pan will look like a messy failure. But it always turns out.

This recipe makes 2 generous servings or 3 appetizer size servings.

Ingredients

1 cup Arborio rice (must be Arborio rice)

3 cups vegetable broth

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp vegan margarine

1 large shallot finely minced (or 1 clove garlic minced and ½ onion minced)

1/3 cup (or so) of dry white wine (optional – but it’s an excuse to crack open the wine!)

½ tsp cumin

I small pumpkin or squash. I love thin-skinned heirloom squashes that don’t need to be peeled. For this recipe I used a honeynut squash.

3 Tbsp nutritional yeast

1/2 to 1 tsp ground black pepper

1 -2 cups fresh spinach chopped finely.

squashrisotto2

Directions

Prepare your squash. Heat your oven to 400F. Wash the squash and cut it in half. Remove the seeds and place the squash halves on a cookie sheet cut side up. Drizzle the squash with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast the squash for 40 minutes until it’s fork tender and golden brown in spots. Remove from the oven and let the squash cool. If you’re using a thin-skinned squash, just cube the squash. If you are using any other type of squash, remove the skin and then cube the vegetable.

Heat the broth in a saucepan so it’s at a low simmer.

In a large frying pan or skillet, heat the olive oil and margarine.

Add the shallot (or onion and garlic, if that’s what you’re using) and sauté until translucent.

Add the rice and stir until it’s coated with the margarine and shallots and turning a light golden colour.

Add the cumin and the white wine (if using) and stir together.

Now the magic. This step will take about 20 minutes.

One ladle at a time (about ½ cup), add broth to the pan of rice.

Stir the rice until the broth is all absorbed by the rice. At first the rice will quickly absorb the broth and at the same time it will release its starch, creating a creamy base. As the rice cooks, the broth will absorb more and more slowly. Patience. Listen to music. Ladle. Stir. Ladle. Stir.

In about 20 minutes your rice will be done and all your broth should be used up. The rice will be al dente. Stir in the nutritional yeast.

Stir in the chopped spinach and the cubed, cooked squash and stir together. Serve up and enjoy!

 

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Squash and coconut soup – spicy, exotic and velvety

CoconutSquashSoup

I receive a weekly produce box from a local farmers’ co-op. Every week is a surprise; we get whatever is in season and ready for harvest. As the season passes from June to November, we move from strawberries and rhubarb and endless lettuce to cabbages, apples, potatoes and squashes. And squashes. And squashes.

So, I made up a huge pot of this soup to share with my neighbours and to enjoy myself. The soup is flavourful and with a touch of heat from chilis. The coconut milk makes it velvety and creamy. I think this is the best soup I’ve ever made.

Ingredients

4 cups of uncooked yellow-fleshed squash – butternut, delicata, spaghetti, buttercup – whatever you have or prefer.

2 cups of peeled, diced sweet potato and carrots. I used 1 medium sweet potato and 2 carrots.

1 large white onion diced

2 cloves garlic minced

1 red chili pepper – minced but don’t remove the seeds; they provide nice heat

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon curry powder

½ teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

Salt to taste

1 Tbsp maple syrup

1 can coconut milk (approximate 500 ml or 2 cups – it’s okay if it’s a bit more or less)

6 cups of vegetable broth

1 Tbsp olive oil or coconut oil

Directions

TIP: True to their name, delicata squash are delicate and don’t travel well so you probably won’t find them in a large grocery store. However, they are a wonderful, mild, thin-skinned squash that you can cook simply by removing the seeds – no peeling required.

To easily remove the flesh of other, firmer squashes, pierce the whole squash a few times with a knife (this allows steam to escape) and microwave the vegetable for 4 – 6 minutes. That should be enough to soften the squash and make it easy to cut open, deseed, peel and dice.

Sauté the onion, garlic and chili in the oil until just soft. Add the curry powder, ginger and cumin and stir through to heat the spices. Add the ground black pepper, broth, squash, carrot and sweet potato and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and simmer for 30 minutes. You want all the vegetables soft enough that they will be blend-able. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

Using an immersion blender or a regular blender, puree the vegetables and broth.

Once you have a smooth mixture, stir in the maple syrup and taste. Add salt if necessary. Add the coconut milk and stir.

Get a BIG bowl and a BIG spoon and enjoy!

This recipe makes about 9 cups of soup. Mmmm.