9.28.2019

Going Nuts!

I generally don’t need much of an excuse to go nuts in the kitchen, but this week I had a great excuse. My friend Todd brought me some organic toasted hazelnuts from his recent trip to the Piedmont in Italy.

Hazelnuts, also known in English as filberts, are called nocciole in Italy, noisettes in France, and go by the cognate haselnüße in Germany.

Flavor in fruits, vegetables, and nuts is variable depending on the weather and growing conditions, and this year was a banner year for these little golden-brown nuggets in Langa. I am doling them out carefully among several recipes for which the flavor will really make a difference.

Today’s risotto, for example. When I say I went nuts with this recipe, I did so using two nuts. The hazelnuts from Todd and some chestnuts. With pumpkin. Wow. And the hazelnuts were the crowning touch.

Such an autumnal dish, redolent with the scents and flavors and colors of the season, and warming on a chilly all night!

Even if you don’t have hazelnuts from the Piedmont, use what you can find and I am sure this risotto will delight you. The dark richness of the pumpkin and chestnuts is nicely enhanced by the nuttiness of the hazelnuts.

~ David

Chestnut-Pumpkin Risotto with Hazelnuts

6 cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 stick celery, diced
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup white wine
1 cup roasted pumpkin purée *
6-8 ounces cooked chestnuts, sliced
salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 tablespoons butter
a squeeze fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup hazelnuts, skinned and toasted, coarsely chopped

     * I roasted some small sweet pumpkins. 

       This is definitely more flavorful than using canned pumpkin.

Bring the broth to a simmer in a small pot on the back burner.

In a large pot, warm the olive over medium heat. Add the shallot, carrot, and celery, and cook for several minutes, until the vegetables are softened but not browned. Add the rice, stir to coat with the oil, and cook for a couple of minutes until the kernels have become opaque and look chalky.

Add the wine and cook, stirring, until the liquid has mostly been absorbed by the rice. Start adding the broth a ladleful at a time (about 1/2 cup), stirring and allowing most of the liquid to absorb before adding the next ladleful.

When you have about 1 cup of broth remaining, stir in the pumpkin purée and sliced chestnuts. Season with salt and pepper, then continue to add the remaining broth until it is used up. You want the texture to be creamy and smooth, and not thick and stodgy.

Finish the risotto by adding the Parmigiano-Reggiano, butter, and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Divide the risotto among 4 heated bowls and top with chopped hazelnuts.

Serves 4.


29 comments:

  1. Hazelnuts and Chestnuts together, what a genius idea. I can’t wait to make it.

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  2. I have made risotto regularly forever and loved hazelnuts since childhood - even have two risotto cookbooks on my shelves . . . no nuts used anywhere ! Have not used pumpkin puree quite the same either. What a wonderful new recipe to try - thank you !

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    1. You are most welcome, Eha — the nuts are rather unusual, I think, but I really love the crunch they give. Like you, I have two risotto cookbooks and have not seen nuts in either.

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    1. It’s really easy, Inger, and I find it very therapeutic after a long day.

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  4. Usually, I make chestnut creamy soup but risotto .... with hazelnuts ... it must be Heaven :-)

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    1. I love chestnut soup, too, Davorka — but it’s nice to match them with pumpkin!

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  5. A very fallish looking and I'm sure a fantastic tasting risotto. We make risotto often in the autumn and winter and make a butternut squash version as well. But, I've never tried with it with small pumpkins much less chestnuts and nuts.
    You know making risotto when dinner guests are over is such a fun and social event. I always enlist help from a guest for stirring duty while I'm busy with last-minute details. Another great recipe David. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Ron — what a great idea to make risotto with guests as a fun way to involve them! I will need to do that — we make risotto year round using seasonal ingredients. Love the stuff!

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  6. I tried roasting chestnuts once in the oven and there was a tremendous explosion!Better for me to use already cooked chestnuts!The hazelnuts certainly do provide a nice contrast on top of the risotto!

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    1. We used to roast chestnuts in the fireplace when we lived in Maine. We wanted to love them but they just weren’t as good as the ones we get on the street in New York or Sicily!

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  7. this looks really beautiful david and i bet it tastes wonderful. i have a feeling we are not allowed to bring nuts into australia:) You know how strong our bio security is here:) You can't even take a banana from one state to another, much less bring in any food from overseas. love hazelnuts and chestnuts. great combo here...cheers sherry

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    1. I didn’t know that, Sherry! Does it go fo dried things (herbs, etc), as well? What if they are packaged? We have the same issue going from Arizona into California. When we cross the border we need to give up all fruits and veg,

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  8. Oh wow, David! This is a bowl full of comfort! The pumpkin, hazelnut, and chestnuts must go so wonderfully together. And with fresh roasted pumpkin - Yum!

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    1. Thanks, Kelly - I used to be afraid of fresh pumpkin (my mother used to say how stringy it was!), but now I am a total convert - what a difference it makes!

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  9. One of the better risotto recipes I've seen. Wonderful layers of flavor in this -- super creative. Thanks.

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  10. This does indeed delight me! I'm a huge fan of risotto -- both cooking it and eating it. ;-) And I love the flavor of hazelnuts and chestnuts. I'm usually pairing hazelnuts with chocolate so I love the excuse to use them in savory dishes. Yum!
    :-) ~Valentina

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    1. I do love the versatility of hazelnuts, Valentina! I have been using them more often in savory dishes and they really add so much!

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  11. Wow! David, I have never had a risotto anything like this one! Must try it soon. Your cooking style reminds me of my mother's. She paid attention to every detail, and everything she made was always better than anyone else's.

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    1. Jean - that is the highest compliment anyone could give me. Thank you!

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  12. i love the recipe its great how you make it easy for us thanks definitely going to try it out :)

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    1. Thanks, Mary - so often things look complicated that really are not!

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  13. This looks like a winner. Welcome to fall. GREG

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  14. Oh, David, this sounds divine! Chestnuts and pumpkin! You know, Ive never heard of hazelnuts being referred to as filberts. You've taught me something new!

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    1. I think Filbert is the British usage, although my mother referred to them that way when I was young. Either way, they are very tasty!

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  15. Dear David, actually we do eat a lot of nuts, walnuts, almonds, pistachios, Haselnüsse...we even have a chestnut tree in our garden and I use them extensively in my baking and cooking. Your risotto recipe is wonderful, fall at its best, with lots of great flavors and textures too! This is a great season for cooking!
    Liebe Grüße and euch beide!
    Andrea

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Thank you for taking the time to leave me a note - I really appreciate hearing from you and welcome any ideas you may have for future posts, too. Happy Cooking!

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