Risotto with Braised Pumpkin and Dried Cranberries

This would make a wonderful Thanksgiving entree for those with a preference for vegan preparations and for anyone else as well. This risotto requires no cheese, although it certainly is an optional addition.


4 cups Pumpkin, freshPeeled, seeded, and cut into 1 inch chunks
½ cup Apple CiderFresh or slightly fermented works
¼ cup Water
¼ tsp Salt
1 tbsp Dark Brown Sugar
¼ tsp Cinnamon, GroundOr just a little more, according to preference
cups Arborio Rice
½ cup NoodlesVery fine, about 1 1/2 inches in length; broken Angel Hair pasta works as well
1 tbsp Classic Olive Oil
½ cup Yellow OnionOr any type cooking onion you prefer, diced about 1/8 inch
cups Bouillon, VegetarianFor those who don't make this from scratch, Knorr makes a very good alternative; also Better Than Bouillion
½ cup White Wine, cooking
½ cup Cranberries, driedBe generous with this measure if you like these.
¼ cup SpinachLeaves finely shredded, or substitute Parsley; Optional
¼ cup Pine NutsToasted at 350 degrees, 12 minutes or so, just until golden


1 For the braised pumpkin: Place pumpkin cubes in sauce pan. Add apple cider and water. Simmer these with the pan top askew until liquid evaporates and the pumpkin is just tender (If needed, add a tablespoon or so of liquid, either cider or water, watching that the pumpkin doesn't scorch on the bottom of the pan). Add brown sugar and salt. Mix these gently until the brown sugar is either absorbed or just slightly carmelized. Sprinkle on cinnamon. Remove to bowl and save for adding to risotto.
2 Prepare the bouillion and place it near where you'll be preparing the risotto. Have the cooking wine nearby too.
3 For the risotto, pour oil into medium size saucepan set over medium heat. When the oil begins to "wave" a bit, add the onion and mix gently. As it begins to look translucent, just a minute or two, add the rice let it saute with the onion just until the rice shows some sign of color.
4 Pour in the wine and gently stir with a spoon. The wine should be just slightly simmering. Little-by-little the rice will absorb the wine as the mixture simmers.
5 After the wine is absorbed with just a little covering the bottom of the pan, add the noodles and mix them together with the rice.
6 Continue to simmer, adding just enough of the bouillion so that it is peeking through the rice and noodles. Stir gently as the rice and noodles continue to absorb the liquid. Over a period of perhaps twenty minutes, the rice and noodles will soften as they absorb the liquid.
7 Finally, stir in the braised pumpkin and dried cranberries. Let the mixture become well-heated. At the very end add the optional green (spinach or parsley) and mix together until well-incorporated.
8 If you like, add grated parmesan, a half cup or so, at this point. However, I recommend tasting the risotto before making this addition.
9 Serve the risotto, with the toasted pine nuts as an "add on," as each one wishes. Toasted pecans or almonds would also work as a accompaniment.