Feeling the end-of-October chills yet? If so, there is one delicious, warming, healthy, and wholesome Halloween dinner that will keep the ghosts away from your house. With a beautiful blend of spices, this Vegan Butternut Squash Risotto is guaranteed to be a hit! If you’re not carving a pumpkin this year, why not shape a pumpkin on your own plate and get the festivities started!
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Halloween Celebration On A Plate
OK, so we don’t celebrate Halloween in the sense that we don’t dress up or go trick or treating. But when it comes to food, I try and celebrate as many occasions as possible just as an excuse to cook something exciting and festive!
We have been cooking this risotto for years. And for me, it is a perfect autumn evening meal… The autumnal colours and flavours of the ingredients have a hug-effect whilst we ponder whether or not it’s finally time to turn the heating on.
We have adjusted this recipe slightly to fit the Halloween theme. And we have definitely spruced up the presentation (no, we don’t normally have our risottos shaped like a pumpkin…)
How To Make A Good Risotto?
- Rice for Risotto: Risotto rice needs to be short, starchy and able to withstand long cooking time. Some of the widely available varieties are Arborio and Carnaroli rice (and out of the two, we prefer Carnaroli). Both types of rice are perfect for slow long cooking, letting the rice infuse with all the flavours of stock without losing their shape.
- Toast the Rice: toasting the rice in a pan before adding any stock is an important step in any risotto preparation. The process seals the surface of the rice, helping it preserve its shape and retain the typical al dente texture.
- Keep the Stock Hot: Put your stock in a pan and keep it on low heat. This ensures an even cooking temperature. If your stock cools down, it will prolong the cooking time and your rice may become soggy in the process.
- Add Stock Little By Little: Not adding all the stock at the same time allows the rice to release its starch at a slow rate, making the risotto creamy. Another advantage of adding the stock gradually is being able to control how much of the stock is actually needed before the rice is cooked.
Method: Halloween Risotto
Start by getting 800ml of stock ready, and keep it warm on the lowest heat. Make sure your stock is plant-based for this Vegan Butternut Squash Risotto Toast your pumpkin seeds in a small frying pan. If you wish, use pine nuts or pecan nuts. The flavours of both work great in this recipe. There is no need to add any oil when toasting seeds or nuts. Pumpkin seeds will start to make crackling and popping noises when they’re ready. Set them aside for later whilst you prepare your Halloween risotto.
Finely chop your onions and garlic. Weigh 300g of butternut squash. Coarsely grate half, and dice the other half into small cubes. Grated squash will add extra vibrant colour to your risotto, making it even more suited for the Halloween dinner table.
Add the oil to a large pan and tip in the onions with a generous pinch of salt. Fry for about 5 minutes until starting to soften. Then, add garlic, risotto rice, and grated butternut squash. Stir everything, and fry for a couple of minutes.
I absolutely love cooking with spices and am extremely fond of this particular blend. Cinnamon, chilli, paprika, and ground ginger make this Halloween dinner recipe the most deliciously warming dish in our autumn repertoire of dinner recipes. Add all your spices at once and make sure all rice is coated. Your kitchen will smell amazing at this point!
Now, cook your risotto as normal. Add warm stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring occasionally. Cook until stock is almost fully absorbed before adding more stock. Carry on until you have no stock left.
In the meantime, add some mild-flavoured oil to a frying pan (you can use the same one you used for pumpkin seeds). Fry the diced butternut squash for approx. 15 minutes, until soft and lightly coloured.
When your vegan butternut squash risotto is cooked (it’s perfect when served slightly al dente), take it off the heat (you can stir in some of the plant-based cheese at this point). Divide between two plates, top with butternut squash cubes, toasted pumpkin seeds, and some more vegan cheese, if used.
And here you have it – your perfect Halloween Dinner sorted!
Other Risotto Recipes
For other lightly coloured risotto recipes suitable for Halloween dinner, have a look at some of our favourites below:
- Risotto Verde (Pea and Asparagus Risotto)
- Risotto al Nero | Squid Ink Risotto
- Sweet Chilli Risotto With Peppers
Other Vegan Recipes
If you’re looking for other comforting vegan meals for cold, dark evenings, try our:
- Vegan Tofu Bulgogi (Korean Marinated Tofu)
- Chinese-Spiced Beetroot & Sweet Potato Salad
- Vegan Stuffed Butternut Squash
- 1 brown onion finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 300 g butternut squash half coarsely grated; half cut into small cubes
- 160 g risotto rice
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp paprika
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp chilli powder
- 800 ml vegetable stock
- 80 g dairy-free cheese finely grated (optional)
- 30 g pumpkin seeds
- vegetable oil
- salt & pepper
- Dissolve your stock cubes/powder in 800ml of boiling water. Keep warm on low heat.
- Toast your pumpkin seeds in a small frying pan (no need to add any oil) until they start to crack and pop. Set them aside for later.
- Add oil to a large heavy-based pan. Tip in the onions, add a pinch of salt and fry for 5 minutes until starting to soften.
- Add the grated butternut squash, chopped garlic, and risotto rice. Mix and fry for a minute or two.
- Add all the sices and mix well until all rice is covered.
- Add warm stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring continuously. Cook until almost fully absorbed before adding more stock. Carry on until you have no stock left.
- In the meantime, add a tablespoon of oil to a frying pan. Fry the diced butternut squash for approx. 15 minutes, until soft and lightly coloured.
- When the risotto is done, stir in half of the vegan cheese, if using. Season to taste and spoon out onto two plates.
- Top with fried cubes of butternut squash, dairy-free cheese and toasted pumpkin seeds.