Pumpkin Leek Risotto + Leftover Risotto Balls!


Is it pumpkin season yet? I may have jumped the gun on this one, but I've been obsessed with this pumpkin leek risotto lately. It has a delicate creamy flavor with a light herb seasoning and just the right amount of pumpkin flavor. 

You could spend an hour roasting a whole pumpkin or squash, and that would definitely be delicious, but for the sake of time I usually make this with canned pumpkin. That helps keeps the time on this recipe under 30 minutes, which makes it a viable option for a weeknight dinner or quick lunch. 

Since I tend to make risotto in large batches, I've started turning the leftovers into little crunchy risotto balls. Simply cool the risotto in the fridge for a few hours or overnight to firm up the mixture, then scoop out spoonfuls and hand shape into spheres. Roll the spheres in a bowl of breadcrumbs, bake in the oven, and serve with marinara sauce. 

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These risotto balls make a wonderful appetizer to bring to fall parties (Labor day already?!) or to introduce people to vegan food who may not have considered before just how tasty plant-based foods can be. 

Here's what you'll need:

 Not shown: Vegetable broth, Salt

Not shown: Vegetable broth, Salt

The first time I made risotto, I was very intimidated and worried about ending up with a mushy mess stuck to the bottom of the pan. The key to avoiding this is to keep the heat no higher than medium and to stir constantly. This dish cooks quickly, but needs your attention and stirring for most of the cooking time (~15 minutes)

We add the vegetable broth in one cup at a time. Once the leeks are cooked, the rice has been added, and the vinegar has been absorbed by the rice, it's time to add our first cup of broth.

When the rice has absorbed most of the broth, as shown in the photo below, then you can add another cup of broth and repeat until rice is cooked and fluffy. 

 The rice has absorbed our first cup of broth so now we can add the second cup. 

The rice has absorbed our first cup of broth so now we can add the second cup. 

When all of the broth has been added and absorbed, it will look like the photo below. The rice will have become more translucent and it will be creamy and soft. 

Now we'll lower the heat to a simmer and add our herbs, pumpkin puree, and cashew parmesan. 

Let the dish rest for 5-10 minutes before serving. Top with additional cooked leeks for garnish.

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At this point, you could serve it as it is, or allow the dish to cool and then place in the fridge overnight. Once mixture has cooled, hand roll into balls, and then coat with a breadcrumb mixture. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat, and bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees. 

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