I am so obsessed with this vegan pumpkin risotto. It’s full of fall flavors and equally perfect for weeknight dinners or special occasions. No need for parmesan; I’ve added a secret ingredient that ups the umami factor. This pumpkin risotto recipe is vegan and gluten-free, yet so special, everyone is sure to love it!
Oh pumpkin, is there anything you can’t do? Okay, maybe not clean my house. Or pick my kid up from school. Or pay the bills. Okay, fine, I suppose there’s a lot you can’t do, but darn if you aren’t a versatile ingredient!
You’re delicious in cookies, breads, coffee, pancakes, curries, chili … and, as it turns out, especially excellent in risotto. You add a creamy, dreamy, autumnal vibe that elevates risotto to something even more … risotto-y.
I am borderline obsessed with risotto. When I took my plant-based pro certification course, one of the biggies I came away with was how to make a darn fine risotto. And it was such a revelation to me that there’s a simple formula to risotto that makes what always seems like a complex dish into something super simple.
Basically, you have olive oil + 1 cup onion + garlic if you wish. Toast 1 cup rice (only arborio will do!). Add 1/2 cup dry white wine. And then add four cups warmed broth, a little at a time, stirring stirring stirring to knock all those grains of rice together and release those marvelous starches that give you that creamy, dreamy risotto everyone knows and loves.
How do you know when it’s time to add more broth to your rice? When your wooden spoon drags through the rice and creates a starchy track along the bottom. Like this!
For this pumpkin risotto, I keep it all in one pan – even the garnishes! We start by toasting the hazelnuts, then wiping out the pan and frying the sage. Then, after we lift the sage out and set our garnishes aside for later, we use the same oil to start to our risotto.
We go low and slow with the onions, adding a dash of salt to draw out the flavor. Then, we toast the rice. Mmmmm … nutty. Meanwhile, on an adjacent burner, we stir together the vegetable broth and a special secret ingredient. Okay, I’ll just tell you – I was never good at suspense. It’s miso! Miso adds a nice depth of flavor – a bit of umami if you will – that’s sometimes missing in vegan risotto because you can’t add parmesan.
Okay then, onward! Add the garlic and saute for a bit, then pour in some nice dry wine wine. And then pour a glass of wine for yourself too, because you’re going to be standing at your stove for awhile and you’ll need something to sip.
I don’t know what it is about the process of making risotto, but I love it. It’s so satisfying to stir, stir, stir, add more broth, and stir stir stir some more until the rice plumps up into this velvety situation. For this vegan pumpkin risotto, you stir in the pumpkin puree toward the end of the process, along with a bit of nutmeg. Because you can’t do pumpkin risotto without nutmeg!
The toasted hazelnuts and crispy fried sage leaves seal the deal in this surprisingly simple, overall, vegan pumpkin risotto recipe. The sage leaves are so earthy and herbal and look so pretty. The hazelnuts add a welcome bit of crunch. But don’t go too crazy with the nuts, because too many can overpower your pumpkin risotto. And nobody puts pumpkin risotto in a corner! Or something like that.
Oh hello pumpkin. I really do love you.
Creamy Vegan Pumpkin Risotto with Toasted Hazelnuts & Crispy Fried Sage Leaves
- 1/4 cup hazelnuts (roughly chopped)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- About 20 fresh sage leaves
- 1/2 medium yellow onion (diced (about 1 cup))
- 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 3 tablespoons white miso
- 1 cup arborio rice (NOT rinsed)
- 2 medium cloves garlic (minced)
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt + more to taste
- 1/8 teaspoon white pepper + more to taste
- Set a large, flat skillet over medium heat. Add hazelnuts and stir frequently until just beginning to get fragrant and light brown, 3-4 minutes. You'll want to remove them from the heat before you think they're fully toasted, as they'll keep toasting for a bit after they're off the heat. Pour the hazelnuts into a small bowl and set aside. Allow the pan cool then wipe clean with a paper towel.
- Set pan back on burner over medium heat. Add olive oil. When hot enough that a small drop of water sizzles in the oil, drop in sage leaves. Fry sage leaves in oil until the edges pale and just slightly start to curl, about 20 seconds. Remove quickly with a fork and set on a paper towel. Sprinkle leaves with a bit of kosher salt or fine-grain sea salt and set aside to cool and crisp up.
- Add onion to the pan along with a pinch of salt and reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon at first and then occasionally, until very soft and translucent, about 8 minutes.
- While the onion cooks, set a medium saucepan over low heat on an adjacent burner. Add the vegetable broth and the miso. Bring to a simmer, stirring to distribute the miso throughout the broth.
- Increase heat for onions to medium low and add rice. Cook, stirring frequently, until rice begins to turn golden in a few spots here and there and it smells nutty, 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for one more minute.
- Stir in the wine. Cook, stirring, until the wine evaporates. Stir the broth/miso mixture and then add 1 cup to the rice. Cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid is mostly absorbed (3-4 minutes) and your wooden spoon leaves a starchy trail when you drag a figure-8 through the risotto. Add 1 more cup broth and repeat, stirring until absorbed. Add another cup of broth and cook until absorbed.
- Add pumpkin, nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and 1/2 cup more of the broth mixture. Cook, stirring frequently, until creamy and the rice is al dente. Taste risotto to test that the rice is done and see if you'd like to add more salt and pepper. If the risotto is too dry (you want it "loose" - so that it spreads in the bowl or on your plate when serving) then stir in the remaining broth, a little at a time.
- Ladle risotto into bowls or onto a plate and garnish with sage leaves and a few bits of toasted hazelnut.