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Fall is by far my favorite time of year. What is it about fall that we all love? For me, it’s the change in the air. I’m not just talking about the cooler weather that comes with it – although, it’s most welcome after the oppressive humidity that we’ve had here. I am talking about a change in our attitude. Each cool breeze that passes wipes off the steamy remnants of the summer. It’s the end of the growing season, and the beginning of the crop harvesting season, which means time for celebration.

Mainly, I love fall because it’s the beginning of the holiday season. This is the time when the cookie making and pie baking begins. Homes all over become filled with the smell of cinnamon and other spices that can only be a marker for this season alone. It’s the beginning of warm meals and cozy sweaters, opened windows to bring in the crisp air mixed with warm drinks in mugs, lazy weekends and comfy couches. From old traditions to new ones, somehow, the time spent with our friends and family becomes extra special around this time of year.

When I think of fall, I, like many, automatically think of pumpkins and all gourds alike. The moment I see them at the market, I get giddy like a little girl. So, it’s only fitting for me to make something with pumpkin to welcome autumn. Even though it’s still 85 degrees and humid here, I can feel the change in my evening and early morning walks. It’s coming, fall is coming. I see a glimmer of it right around the corner. Go ahead, get your fall colors ready, bring out the heavy pots and baking pans, and grab on to it with gusto!

This recipe is an adaptation of a basic risotto recipe from the Martha Stewart cookbook that I’ve made many variations of. I wanted to incorporate the pumpkin, which add creaminess and sweetness to the dish. I like using the different types of wild mushrooms for its earthiness and the sense of umami. Enjoy with your favorite glass of wine.

“”Autumn -the year’s last, loveliest smile.” — William Cullen Bryant

 

 

Photo by Maria Kennedy

 

Photo by Maria Kennedy

Serves 6-8

 

INGREDIENTS:
(click here for a full grocery list)

2 small cooking pumpkins

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 shallots (minced)

2 stalks green onion

1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped

3 cups chicken broth

1 1/2 cups arborio rice

1/2 ounce dried wood ear mushrooms

1 cup shiitake mushrooms

1 cup baby portobello mushrooms

1 cup white wine

1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

olive oil

salt

freshly ground pepper

Photo by Maria Kennedy

 

Photo by Maria Kennedy

 

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cut the pumpkins in half and discard the seeds and stringy pulp.Slice the pumpkins and place on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with olive oil, salt and  pepper. Roast for about 35-40 minutes. Let it cool then cut into cubes.
  3. Pour the chicken broth in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil and then let it simmer on low.
  4. Clean the portobello and shiitake mushrooms and slice them. Rehydrate the wood ear mushrooms in a cup of white wine for about 20 minutes. Take the rehydrated mushrooms out of the wine and set the wine aside. Chop the mushrooms.
  5. Mince the shallots and chop the scallions separating the white from the green.
  6. Chop the parsley and set aside.
  7. Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat in a large pot.
  8. Saute the shallots and the white of the scallions until tender and clear. Add the mushrooms and cook until tender.
  9. Add the rice and cook until it is opaque (about 8 minutes).
  10. Add 1/2 a cup of the broth into the rice and stir until it is absorbed. Keep adding half a cup of the broth and stirring until all of the broth is absorbed and the rice is cooked. The process should take about 25 minutes.
  11. Add the pumpkin into the mixture and if it starts to dry out, add a little bit of the wine.
  12. Stir the last 2 tablespoons of butter and add the parmesan cheese and parsley, Add freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  13. Sprinkle with the green part of the scallions before serving.

Photo by Maria Kennedy

 

Photo by Maria Kennedy

 

Photo by Maria Kennedy

 

Photo by Maria Kennedy