Adventures in Gourds Part #1 – Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater

Peter, Peter pumpkin eater,
Had a wife but couldn’t keep her,
 Put her in a pumpkin shell,
And there he kept her, very well.

What?!  This is one of the many nursery rhymes that sort of disturbs me…I’m sure there’s some deep philosophical meaning but I just don’t get it…


I. Love. Pumpkin. ♥  I’m sure you’re all expecting me to break out pumpkin cheesecake (I do make a fantastic one!) or a pumpkin roll or bread or some sweet treat when you hear me say pumpkin.  Well, this time you would be wrong!  Why do we put pumpkin in a box?  Do you think this gourd longs to become a pumpkin pie?  I would say the answer is definitely no.  Not when there are so many delicious things it can become!  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE a big piece of pumpkin pie with a tower of whipped cream but the possibilities are really endless.

I encourage you again to step out of your comfort zone.  Try something new: new flavors, new techniques, whatever, just try it.

I’m making it my mission over the next few weeks to expand the horizons of Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater.  I wonder what he would think of my first creation…Pumpkin Risotto with Blackened Shrimp and Apple Ginger Tarragon Salsa.  Eat that Peter!

Pumpkin Risotto with Blacked Shrimp and Apple Ginger Tarragon Salsa

Risotto (serves 2 with leftovers for risotto cakes, recipe follows, or 4 large portions):

  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large finely chopped shallot
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups uncooked Arborio rice
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin (make sure it’s not pumpkin pie filling, I’ve made that mistake before!)
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Bring broth and water to a simmer in a medium saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat.

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shallots; cook 1 minute or until tender, stirring constantly. Add garlic; cook 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add rice; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly until rice is slightly toasted.  Add wine; cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly or until liquid has evaporated. Stir in 1 cup broth mixture; cook until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add remaining broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (about 33 minutes total).  I always taste along the way to check the rice.  Stir in pumpkin during with the last of the stock. Stir in cheese and remaining ingredients.

Shrimp (serves 2, can be doubled):

  • 1/2 lb. large shrimp, peeled & deveined
  • Blackening seasoning (I made my own with cumin, chipotle powder, garlic powder, salt & pepper)
  • Olive oil

Heat olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium high heat.  Coat shrimp with blackening seasoning.  Add shrimp to the pan and cook for 4-5 minutes (depending on the size of your shrimp it could be a little longer) or until translucent.

Apple Ginger Tarragon Salsa (serves 2, can be doubled):

  • 1/2 Granny Smith apple, diced
  • 1 teaspoon tarragon, minced
  • Ginger, grated (amount depends on how much you like ginger)
  • White balsamic vinegar
  • Honey
  • Olive oil

Mix all ingredients together and serve on top of shrimp and risotto.

Don’t be afraid of the flavor combination or the thought of standing over the pan stirring for half an hour.  It’s worth it, trust me.

Doesn’t that look delicious?!  I bet if Peter’s wife had this recipe he wouldn’t have put her in the pumpkin shell.  Just sayin’…

Bonus recipe time!  Sorry there is no picture…they were so good I scarfed them down before I even thought about it!

Pumpkin Risotto Cakes

  • Leftover pumpkin risotto, chilled
  • Olive oil
  • Leftover shrimp & apple salsa OR mixed greens tossed with olive oil & lemon

Divide risotto into equal portions, shaping each into a 1/2-inch-thick patty. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add patties; cook 3 minutes. Carefully turn patties; cook 3 minutes on each side or until golden. Repeat procedure with remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil and patties.

Garnish with leftover shrimp & apple salsa or top with a mixed green salad for a light lunch/dinner.

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