I am so obsessed with this vegan pumpkin risotto recipe. It’s so creamy with a bit of crispiness from the fried sage leaves and crunchiness from the toasted hazelnuts sprinkled on the top. Fall flavor overload.
Why You’ll Love this Vegan Pumpkin Risotto Recipe
Pumpkin adds such a creamy, dreamy, autumnal vibe that elevates risotto to something even more … risotto-y. This recipe is equally perfect for weeknight dinners or special occasions. And this vegan and dairy-free pumpkin risotto is vegan – no parmesan + veggie broth; and gluten-free. Yet so special, everyone is sure to love it!
No worries about the lack of parmesan, by the way. I know it adds tons of flavor, but I’ve added a secret ingredient instead that boosts the umami factor like nobody’s business. But before we get into ingredients, let’s talk about vegan risotto, shall we?!
The Formula for a Perfect Vegan Risotto
Let me just say, 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 vegan 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
- Then toast 1 cup rice (only arborio will do!)
- And add 1/2 cup dry white wine.
- 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!
Vegan Pumpkin Risotto Ingredients
The ingredients list for this risotto is pretty simple, aside from the garnishes which fancy it up a bit.
- Olive oil
- Veggie broth
- White miso (our secret weapon!)
- Arborio rice
- Dry white wine
- Pumpkin puree
- Salt & pepper
- Fresh sage leaves
- Chopped hazelnuts
How to Make It
For the ultimate uncomplicated-ness, I keep it all (except the warmed broth) 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 for some nice sage flavor.
We go low and slow with the onions, adding a dash of salt to draw out the moisture. Then, we toast the rice. Mmmmm … nutty. Meanwhile, on an adjacent burner, we stir together the vegetable broth and 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 to the risotto pan 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 a bit 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!
Then serve it up, topping with your delicious garnishes. Pumpkin win!
Here’s the full, printable recipe.
Vegan Pumpkin Risotto
For the toppings
- 1/4 cup hazelnuts (roughly chopped)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 20 fresh sage leaves (keep whole)
For the risotto
- 1/2 cup 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 ground pepper** (+ more to taste)
Prepare the toppings
- 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.
Make the risotto
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.