Giada's as a starting point. Her bacon idea sounds awesome, but I've been eating a lot of meat and decided to make this vegetarian. Being all Fall-themed, you could use this as the vegetarian main course at Thanksgiving.
I find it interesting that she uses the purée to make a pumpkin broth, instead of using chunks of roasted pumpkin, which is what I was originally looking for. This is way easier and cheaper, since canned pumpkin is available year-round. Don't get the one labelled "pie filling". That has sugar and spices. You're looking for the one that contains only pumpkin. You can also substitute a purée of any gourd such as butternut squash or even a non-gourd veggie like zucchini. Just swap the nutmeg for something more appropriate like cumin if you go too far out of the box.
1 quart low sodium vegetable broth (not reduced sodium)
1 C canned pumpkin purée
*4 stalks green onion, finely chopped
1 Tb butter
*1/2 tsp dried thyme (1 tsp fresh)
1-1/2 C arborio rice (Calrose or medium-grain ok)
*2/3 C dry white wine
*1 Tb dried parsley or 1/3 C fresh
1/8 tsp pepper
*1/4 tsp nutmeg
8 oz mascarpone cheese (cream cheese can be a substitute)
salt to taste
1. In a medium saucepan, bring broth and pumpkin to a simmer and keep warm on the side.
2. Reserve a few tablespoons of the green chopped onion for a garnish (which I totally forgot to use for the photo). In a larger saucepan, cook the majority of the green onions in butter until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the thyme and rice and cook about 1 minute, until rice is slightly glazed. Add wine and simmer until absorbed, 2 to 3 minutes. This is your chance to cook out the alcohol. Don't start the next step until it is completely absorbed.
3. Start to stir in pumpkin broth 1/2 C at a time. Stir until absorbed before adding more. Unfortunately, you have to stir almost constantly to achieve the creamy texture and avoid scorching. This process is going to take up to half an hour. If the rice absorbs all the broth and still doesn't seem soft enough, add water 1/4 C at a time.
4. Once rice is cooked, stir in parsley, pepper, nutmeg, and mascarpone. Stir until the cheese melts and is incorporated. Taste and add salt or more pepper as needed. Portion into serving bowls and garnish with reserved onion.
Difficulty rating :)