Skill Level: Intermediate | Time: 55 minutes | Servings: 4
This ultra creamy pumpkin leek risotto recipe is completely homemade and loaded with delicious roasted pumpkin and leeks. With irresistible flavors and a touch of fresh lemon to brighten up this rich dinner, you’ll definitely want to go back for seconds!
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Is Pumpkin Leek Risotto Vegan?
There are vegan risotto recipes, but the majority include some type of dairy (butter or cheese being common). Of course, there’s also plenty of risotto recipes that use meat too.
However, with a few simple ingredient changes, like using oil instead of butter and not adding cheese, risotto can easily be made vegan!
Don’t worry though, this recipe is rich and creamy due to the technique used to make risotto!
Risotto is classically an Italian dish of rice cooked in broth, with ingredients like butter, Parmesan cheese, onion and white wine along with other flavors from vegetables (or meat/ fish).
I don’t promise this is an authentic risotto recipe, but it’s certainly a delicious rice dish cooked slowly to create a creamy vegan meal!
Ingredients to Make Leek and Pumpkin Risotto
This recipe’s ingredients are simple as far as risotto goes! Since this is a vegan recipe, olive oil is used in place of butter to add flavor and richness. Otherwise, the ingredients are common for a classic risotto recipe (apart from the miso paste).
To make vegan pumpkin leek risotto, you’ll need:
- Pumpkin squash: Select a small-medium sized orange cooking pumpkin or a hearty variety of squash (winter squash like kabocha or acorn are good choices). Just remove its seeds, peel and cube before roasting!
- Leeks: Leeks provide a huge amount of the flavor in this recipe since it doesn’t use onion. Select large leeks with a good portion of white on the bottom. Use only the white half of leeks (discard green tops).
- Celery: To provide flavor and some green to the risotto, celery is a delicious addition. It’s added first so has plenty of time to cook and infuse the risotto!
- Garlic: Garlic is a must for this recipe. I used 2 large cloves, but you can use as much or as little as you like for a nicely flavored risotto!
- Arborio rice: Arborio rice is a type of rice with high starch content. This starch thickens the broth and creates the signature creamy, rich texture of risotto.
- Dry white wine: Wine is commonly used in risotto and adds lots of flavor. I recommend a dry white wine since we don’t want too much sweetness or sugar added. I used a Pinot Grigio. If you’re vegan, double-check that your wine selection is vegan.
- Vegetable broth: Vegetable broth is one of the staple ingredients providing flavor, so select one that you really enjoy the flavor of (or use a homemade option). I like to buy no salt added broth so I can control the salt level (I find broth that contains salt creates a risotto that’s far too salty, but do what you prefer!).
- Olive oil: Olive oil helps roast the pumpkin and leeks, and is in the risotto to create a rich flavor. Risotto is often made with butter, but olive oil is a simple and delicious vegan substitution.
- Miso paste: Miso paste is a very non-traditional ingredient for risotto, but I like to use it for depth of flavor and salt. Since there’s little salt elsewhere in the recipe (using a salt-free broth), miso adds salty flavor that’s needed for a well-rounded flavor. If you use broth that contains salt, it may be best to skip this ingredient. I also love the fermented flavor miso paste provides as it helps mimic the taste that a fermented cheese would offer (while keeping it vegan!).
- Thyme, rosemary and nutmeg: These herbs and spices are what create a unique but irresistible flavor in this leek and pumpkin risotto recipe. I use dry thyme and dry rosemary. For the rosemary, I crush the large pieces so they mix more evenly.
- Lemon juice and zest: Some citrus is a perfect addition to brighten up this creamy meal and provides beautiful flavor contrast from some of the heavier ingredients.
- Salt and pepper: Salt and pepper are added to the vegetables as they roast. You can also add salt and pepper at the end as you adjust the salt levels to taste.
How to Make Pumpkin Leek Risotto: Instructions and Video Tutorial
While there’s some time and work required to stir risotto for the best texture, this is a simple recipe that’s also super fancy!
Step 1: Prep the Vegetables and Other Ingredients
Start by preparing the vegetables for roasting.
For the pumpkin, carefully cut in half, scoop out the seeds and peel its skin. I find it easiest to slice each half then use a knife to remove the peel, but you can peel each half with a vegetable peeler if preferred.
Cut the pumpkin into bite-sized cubes and place onto a parchment paper (or silicone mat) covered baking tray.
For the leeks, remove the green tops and discard (or compost if possible!). The green part is far too tough to eat, so only keep the white parts (some light green is okay). Carefully wash the leeks since they’re often dirty, especially between layers.
Slice the leeks in half down the length of the leek, then across it to create thin strips. Place onto a separate parchment paper lined baking tray.
Wash the celery carefully and chop into very small pieces. Mince the garlic.
Since you need to continuously stir the risotto, it’s best to prep all the other ingredients before you start cooking. Now is a great time to get that done!
Step 2: Roast Pumpkin and Leeks
Preheat the oven to 400 °F and toss the pumpkin pieces with 1 tbsp olive oil, some salt and pepper (about ¼ tsp salt and 1/8 tsp ground black pepper).
Toss the sliced leeks with an additional 1 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper.
Place the trays into your oven, ideally on the same rack in the center of the oven, and bake. Toss the leeks and pumpkin around after about 15 minutes then return the baking trays to the oven to finish roasting.
The leeks take about 20 minutes, at which time they should be softened and starting to brown on the tops. The pumpkin takes about 25 minutes and should also be soft with some browning.
To save time, cook the risotto while your veggies roast.
Step 3: Cook Risotto
Have all the ingredients prepped (celery, garlic, rice, wine, herbs and spices, lemon juice and zest, olive oil and miso paste), then heat your vegetable broth to at least room temperature. You can either use a microwave or keep it in a small pot next to where you’ll cook the risotto, on low heat to keep it warm.
In a large pot add the remaining olive oil over medium heat. Once warm, toss in the celery and cook for about 2 minutes, until it turns a brighter green and starts to soften. Next, add the garlic and cook for another minute.
Then, add the arborio rice and coat in oil, toasting the rice for about another minute. At this point, pour in the white wine (at room temperature). There will be a large sizzle as the wine hits the hot pot. From this point on you need to stir continuously.
Stir until the wine is almost completely absorbed by the rice, then add ½ C vegetable broth. Stir until this broth is almost completely absorbed by the rice. At this point, I add miso paste along with another ½ C vegetable broth. Work the miso paste around so it dissolves and becomes fully incorporated into the risotto.
While this round of vegetable broth is getting absorbed, toss in the thyme, rosemary and nutmeg. Adding herbs and spices at this point gives them time to infuse their flavors into the risotto!
Continue adding vegetable broth ½ C at a time and stirring until it’s almost completely absorbed. Repeat until all the vegetable broth is added. This process takes about 30 minutes.
When the last ½ C of broth is in, add lemon juice and zest. As the final ½ C gets absorbed by the rice, remove the risotto from the heat. There should be some liquid left to absorb when you take it off the heat as the remaining heat should be enough to soak up the rest without getting to thick or overcooked.
Step 4: Add Pumpkin and Leeks to Risotto
Your pumpkin and leeks should be roasted by the time the risotto is cooked. Transfer the roast pumpkin and leeks into the risotto, then stir to combine.
Some of the pumpkin will mash and stir into the risotto, creating a light yellow-orange color. Most of the pumpkin should hold its shape and provide a good texture when eating!
Step 5: Garnish and Serve
Now the risotto is ready to serve! If you like, top with vegan Parmesan cheese, pumpkin seeds and/ or some extra fresh or dry thyme.
Enjoy your hard work and don’t forget to finish off that bottle of wine you opened!
Pumpkin and Leek Risotto Tips, Substitutions and Variations
This recipe uses roasted pumpkin for a delicious flavor and texture. I have another recipe for pumpkin spinach risotto that uses pumpkin puree; it creates a completely different texture and flavor!
As far as substitutions go, I know not everyone consumes alcohol. It’s possible to replace white wine with additional vegetable broth, just add 1 tsp apple cider vinegar and ½ tsp sugar to it to help make up for the lost zing and sweetness from the wine.
Another important tip is to consider how much salt is in the vegetable broth. If there’s little to no salt, you’ll need miso paste since salt is essential for a good flavor. If the vegetable broth is salted, skip the miso paste and add salt to taste so you don’t end up with a terribly salty risotto.
Lastly, the most important part of making risotto is patience. Wait for the broth to be almost completely absorbed before adding more. As you scrape your cooking utensil across the bottom of the pot, no liquid should pool behind where you scraped.
How to Store Risotto
Allow leftover risotto to cool before storing it in an airtight container. It should last for up to a week in the fridge.
You can reheat this recipe in the microwave, or over low heat on the stove. The risotto will be thicker after it’s cooled, but an extra splash of vegetable broth can help loosen things up again.
I hope you enjoy this recipe; if you make it, show me by tagging @lettucevegout on social media! You may also like my recipe for pumpkin spinach risotto, made with pumpkin puree.
Pumpkin Leek Risotto
- Cutting Board
- Large pot
- Baking tray
- Silicone baking mats (or parchment paper)
- Box grater or zester
- 1 small pumpkin squash
- 3 large leeks
- 4 tbsp olive oil , divided
- 1 tsp salt , divided
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- ¾ C celery (about 2 ribs)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 ½ C arborio rice
- ¾ C dry white wine
- 4 C vegetable broth (no salt added)
- ½ tbsp miso paste , white type
- ½ tsp dry thyme
- ¼ tsp dry rosemary
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- ½ tbsp lemon zest
- Preheat oven to 400 °F. Prepare 2 baking trays by covering them with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Prep the pumpkin: cut in half, remove seeds, peel then cube into bite size pieces. Add to one baking tray with 1 tbsp olive oil and salt and pepper to taste (about ¼ tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper).
- Prep the leeks: remove the green tops, wash thoroughly, slice in half lengthwise (creating semi-circle shapes) then slice thinly. Add to the second baking tray with 1 tbsp olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.
- Bake the pumpkin and leeks for 15 minutes, toss them around then finish roasting until softened and starting to brown. Leeks take about 20 minutes and pumpkin takes about 25 minutes.
- While the vegetable roast, prep the remaining ingredients to begin preparing the risotto (finely dice celery, mince garlic, measuring everything else out). The wine should be at room temperature and the vegetable broth warmed (heat in a small pot over low heat and keep this on next to the large pot for the risotto; alternatively can heat up the broth in the microwave until warm).
- Heat the remaining 2 tbsp of oil in a large pot over medium heat.
- Add in ¾ C chopped celery and cook for 2 minutes, until it starts to soften and turn a brighter green color. Next, add the minced garlic and cook for another minute.
- Add 1 ½ C arborio rice and coat with the oil, toasting the rice for one minute.
- Next, add ¾ C white wine. There will be a large sizzle when the wine hits the hot pot. Stir until most of the wine is absorbed.
- Add ½ C warm vegetable broth along with ½ tbsp miso paste. Stir continuously, making sure the miso is dissolved and evenly incorporated. Keep stirring until most of the liquid is soaked up by the rice.
- Add another ½ C vegetable broth to the pot along with ½ tsp dry thyme, ¼ tsp dry rosemary and ¼ tsp ground nutmeg. Stir until most of the liquid is absorbed. If you drag your cooking utensil across the bottom of the pot, no liquid should be pooling behind the scraped portion.
- Continue adding ½ C vegetable broth at a time, stirring until most of the liquid is absorbed before adding another ½ C broth. Keep going until all the vegetable broth is added in and almost absorbed.
- Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the lemon zest and juice (this can be added with the final ½ C broth if you like).
- The vegetables should be roasted at this point and can be stirred into the risotto until well mixed.
- Serve. Optional to top with vegan Parmesan cheese, pumpkin seeds and/ or extra fresh or dry thyme or rosemary.