Back in the saddle again - Sage Risotto baked in a Pumpkin

[Posted by Ruth]

Now that the holidays are over, it's time to take a breath and dive back into things.  Even though we're solidly in winter, Stone Gardens Farm  offered a winter pickup of squash and root vegetables for the coming week.  Right after I signed on for another box from the farm I realized that I still had a couple of pumpkins and a huge butternut squash hanging out in our cold garage waiting for me to stop baking (and eating!) cookies and deal with them before I go get more on Thursday.

Since it was the middle of the week and both boys were still home for the holidays I wanted something that was homey and filling but not not more effort than I wanted to make at the end of the work day.  One of the pumpkins was so cute and perfectly formed that it would have been a shame to hack it up.  So, a pumpkin stuffed with risotto seemed like the thing to do.

Sage Risotto Baked in a Pumpkin
Note: these are the proportions that worked for this pumpkin.  Once you scrape the seeds out of your pumpkin check the volume by filling it with water and measuring how much it holds.  Don't have the total volume of water + rice exceed this amount.

1 small sweet eating pumpkin, top cut off and seeded.
1 cup arborio rice
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
2 T olive oil
2 T dried sage leaves, crushed, or 1 T fresh sage, finely chopped
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 cups chicken or turkey stock, preferably homemade (we had buckets of turkey stock from Christmas)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
Salt and Pepper to taste (remember when seasoning that you have to put in enough salt and pepper to season the pumpkin flesh as well.

Preheat oven to 350.  Warm the stock in a saucepan or microwave until hot but not boiling.  Heat oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat and saute the onion and garlic until soft and translucent.  Add the rice and sage and continue cooking over medium heat until all the grains are well coated with oil and heated through, about 3-4 minutes.  Pour in the wine and and continue to cook until all the wine is absorbed into the rice.  At this point, add all of the hot stock, salt and pepper and bring up to simmer.  

Place the cleaned out pumpkin in a lightly oiled baking dish.  (A 9 x 13 inch baking pan works well here.  It will be deep enough to catch the liquid in case your pumpkin springs a leak)  Put a little salt and pepper in the pumpkin and pour the hot rice and all of its liquid inside.  Put 1/2 of the Parmesan cheese on top, top with the the pumpkin's lid and bake.  Begin looking at around 1 hour.  Mine took closer to 1 1/2 hours before the liquid was fully absorbed and the pumpkin was fully cooked.  Don't cook to the point where the pumpkin collapses as you want to use it to serve the rice. 

When done, remove from oven and serve with the remaining cheese on the side.  Have people scoop out pumpkin along with the rice.

The rice won't come out al dente as it would if you make it on the stove top, stirring in a little stock at a time, but it's soft and lush and flavorful.  Perfect mid-winter comfort food.