This roasted chestnut and pumpkin risotto is completely luscious with a velvety texture. Grab yourself a bowl and curl up with a blanket and a good book as this comfort food is going to cure-all of your worries and woes. If you are in need of some good comfort food right now, be sure to try our Creamy Kabocha Truffle Pasta or Grandma’s Chicken and Sliders.
There is something so therapeutic about making risotto. You cannot be distracted by the kids homework, husbands text messages, work e-mails or even the dog who is crossing his legs and wants to go for a walk. For about 20-30 minutes you are committed to lovingly stir and slowly add the warmed broth into the risotto. You are living in the moment.
Sometimes , getting back to the basics and forgetting about technology for just a short period of time, does wonders for a person’s perspective on life. It gives you and chance to think about nothing at all or about everything for 20-30 minutes of meditation while you watch the amazing aborio rice transforms into a steam bowl of warming comfort food. I swear I can tell the difference in risotto in people who try to cut the corners and do this process in the oven or other mysterious ways. There is something special about the love that goes into the gentle stirring as the arborio rice absorbs the liquid.
Today this love is even greater as chestnuts are in season here in Hong Kong. There is nothing that beats the sweet and delicate taste of roasted chestnuts. One of the most favorite street foods in Hong Kong is the sweet roasted chestnut, especially down in Sheung Wan area. When the temperatures start to fall, you can smell the sweet fragrant smell as you walk the streets. If you grab a bag from a street vendor, they will be wrapped in a piece of paper and be steaming hot. Be careful to not burn yourself. Sometimes they sell them alone and sometimes they sell them along with roasted sweet potato.
Roasted chestnuts are a lovely sweet treat just eaten warm and freshly roasted. However, it takes them up to the next level to use these fresh roasted chestnuts in your creamy pumpkin risotto. It bundles up all the flavors of autumn in one cozy and delightful comfort dish.
I added some fresh ginger and some fresh thyme from my window seal spice boxes to my risotto to give it some extra warmth and depth of flavor. For myself, I completely left out the last steps of adding the luscious butter and grated parmesan cheese to keep it dairy (lactose) free and vegan. I have to tell you this dish was so lovely even without the butter and the cheese, already so creamy and delicious. Then for the rest of the hungry crew, I added a dollop of butter and parmesan cheese and no one was saying a word, just shoveling it with an occasional moan or asking for seconds so I think that might mean it was quite good , if you can read teenager language…
How to Roast Chestnuts
The best way I have found to roast the Asian chestnut is to carefully make an “X” with your knife. Boil the chestnuts for few minutes and then roast them in the oven. You need to peel them right away as if they cool down they are a nightmare to peel. Alternatively you can just boil them, remove the peel and then roast them in a pan for this recipe. I will leave that up to you. Alternatively you can purchase already prepared chestnut puree or roasted chestnuts as I have seen in the States, but I have never seen that in Hong Kong unless I buy it as part of the street food down in Sheung Wan.
If you cannot get hands on roasted chestnuts, no worries. This risotto dish would be delightful even without it. I just used the rest of Libby’s 100% pure pumpkin (plain pumpkin and not one pre-seasoned with pumpkin spice) as I had some leftover from making a double match of our Healthy Pumpkin Muffins.
More Delicious Pumpkin Recipes
Roasted Chestnut Pumpkin Risotto
- 20 Chestnuts roasted, peeled and chopped
enough to cover pan to boil chestnuts
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup onion
peeled and chopped
- 1 tsp ginger
freshly grated but you can also use 1/4 tsp dried
- 3 cloves garlic
peeled and minced
- 2 cups arborio rice
- 1 cup white wine
- 6.5 cups chicken stock hot (or can use vegetable broth)
- 1.5 cups pumpkin puree
- 1/2 tsp thyme
- 4 tbsp butter
unsalted (optional or can use non dairy margarine)
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
- Pre-heat the oven to 205 degrees C (400F) Carefully with your knife score an "X" on each chestnut. Place your prepped chestnuts in a pot and cover with cold water to cover. Turn on the burner to high. When the water boils, set your timer for 3 minutes. Then turn off the burner. Drain your chestnuts. Place your chestnuts on a baking sheet and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the skin starts to pop open. While your chestnuts are still warm, peel. If you wait until they cool it is very difficult to get the peel off the chestnut. Chop up roasted chestnuts to a medium to fine texture. (Alternatively you can just boil, peel and then roast on the stovetop if you do not have an oven. Or you can purchase pre-packaged water chestnuts or stop by Sheung Wan food street stalls in Hong Kong and pick up some fresh roasted chestnuts.)
- In large frying pan with lots of bottom surface area, add olive oil and onions, ginger and garlic and cook until translucent. Add the aborio rice and stir until all of the rice is coated with the olive oil. In a saucepan heat up the chicken (vegetable) broth.
- Add the white wine while continue stirring and let all of the liquid is absorbed. Turn down the heat to a simmer. Add one ladle at a time of steaming hot chicken or vegetable broth until it is absorbed while you are stirring the whole time. This part takes patience. You need to slowly stir while the liquid is absorbed into the arborio rice just one ladle at a time and this process takes around 20-25 minutes or until the rice is cooked, aldente. It depends on many factors but it took around 6-7 cups of broth to cook my risotto to the perfect texture and most of the liquid is absorbed.
- Add the pumpkin, thyme, roasted crushed chestnuts and stir to combine and season with salt and pepper to taste and serve just like this if you want to enjoy a creamy and delicious vegan delight. However if you plan to take this risotto to the next level then hold off on the seasoning until you add the parmesan cheese as this cheese is salty. Next turn down the heat to low. Add butter and parmesan cheese and stir until melted and luscious and creamy and velvety. Enjoy!