Tag Archives: fontina

Pumpkin Risotto

21 Nov

Thanksgiving is my favorite time of the year.  It’s special to me because it marks the official start of the Holiday and Xmas season and because I was actually born on a Thanksgiving Day a few years ago. 

To me the rituals of Thanksgiving are most precious – the sharing with family, the cooking and wanting to please your loved ones and the action of giving thanks for all that we have today.  To give thanks without asking anything in return is one of the principles of YOGA and maybe, my connection to Thanksgiving and how much I enjoy this holiday are signs of me possibly practicing yoga before this life.

I always give thanks to the Supreme Being for everything I do have – my life, my family, my health, my ability to see, hear, speak, walk, communicate, my roof, my family, those who love me and those who I love.  But I also give thanks for all those things I do not have…  those things we might think we need in our lives, and the very fact we do not have them might very well be a blessing.  I always thank God for keeping those wishes away from me… because I must learn to appreciate that life is perfect just as it is and that we do not need anything else but the moment we are living.  The present is the only thing we need to continue evolving and growing as spiritual beings in this physical existence.

Ever since I became vegetarian, Thanksgiving has been a challenge in the sense that I was truly attached to the flavors and smells of the traditional omnivore menu.  But in recent years I’ve taken it upon myself to search and create recipes that are in tune with the season, but completely vegetarian and satisfying at the same time.  And when I say in tune with the season, I mean the seasons in the US, because in Puerto Rico, it’s hot and humid on Thanksgiving, just like any other summer day.

This year I decided to try a Pumpkin Risotto.  Something easy, yet delicious that I could make at my grandma’s house.  This year Thanksgiving will be only her, my mom and I, and I don’t want to carry stuff from my home to hers.   I did a test run of  this recipe first and here are the results…  Something you can make any time of the year, but resonates really well in Fall and Winter.  Here’s how I did it…




1 box of Archer Farms’ 4 cheese risotto mix
1 cup pumpkin, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
½ tbs olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 ounces Fontina cheese, cubed small
1 ounce Blue cheese, I use Danish blue, grated or in crumbles
¼ cup Pecorino Romano, grated
¼ cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas)


  1. First, we need to roast the pumpkin.  Place the cleaned pumpkin on a baking sheet, drizzle the olive oil, sprinkle salt and pepper and roast in a 350 F oven for about 20-30 minutes.  I do this in my toaster oven.
  2. When the pumpkin is about to be done, start preparing the risotto mixture according to the directions on the package.   I place 2 ½ cups of water to boil.  When the water starts to boil, mix contents of rice and season packets.  Mix together well and leave uncovered. 
  3. After the pumpkin is done, place in the pumpkin seeds another baking sheet and roast dry for about 10-12 minutes.  Watch them closely so they do not burn.  They’ll change color from green to brownish.
  4. When the rice is halfway done, add the pumpkin pieces, the Fontina cheese and the Blue cheese.  Mix well so the cheese pieces melt well.  If the pumpkin stays in big pieces, kind of crush them against the side of the saucepan.  The idea is for the pumpkin pieces to mix well with the rice sauce and make it kind of orangey.
  5. When the rice is done, about 17-20 minutes, turn off the stove, add the Pecorino Romano cheese and cover.  The sauce will thicken upon standing.  Leave it covered for about 15-20 minutes so the sauce thickens and the temperature lowers so you won’t burn the roof of your mouth and can taste the cheeses and pumpkin.  Do not skip the waiting step, no matter how hungry you might be… I speak from experience, and burning the roof of your mouth is not fun.
  6. When serving, sprinkle some roasted pumpkin seeds on top for a nice look and great crunchy bite.


I enjoyed this risotto with my sweet plantains and a side salad.

It’s super easy to make.  It’s great if you’re only cooking for a small group, but if you want to feed more than 2-3 with this, just double the recipe – no problem.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  I hope my mom and grandma like it too.


Thanks to you for always touching base with me here at KarmaFree Cooking.  I definitely count you as part of my blessings.

Baked Pasta with 4 Cheeses

22 Dec

This is my FAVORITE pasta dish of all time!!!!!!

 I did it last night as a Birthday present dinner for my friend Walter, who traveled with me to Spain this past Summer.  And whom I am trying to convince to apply with me to be in The Amazing Race.

If I have to ask for a Last Meal, this will be the dish I would request.  This is an adaptation from a Martha Stewart recipe, which is actually a recipe from a Providence, Rhode Island restaurant called Al Forno.  I’ve never been to Providence, but if I get to go, Al Forno is the only restuarant I need to go.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do…



1/2 pound whole-wheat pasta – shells, penne or rigatoni would all work well
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese – I sometimes use a pre-shredded cheese blend from the store
1/2 cup  freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, divided in half – half for mixture, half for topping
1/4 cup freshly grated Fontina cheese
2 tablespoons ricotta cheese
1/2 cup pureed tomatoes
10 fresh basil leaves, torn with your hands
1/4 teaspoon salt
a few grinds of freshly cracked pepper
  1. Heat oven to 500 degrees. 
  2. Bring large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add pasta and cook until al dente.
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  4. While pasta cooks, place cream, cheeses, pureed tomatoes, salt, pepper and basil in a large bowl.
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  6. Drain pasta and toss together with cheese mixture in bowl.
  7. Pour into a medium-sized baking dish.  Sprinkle with 1/4 cup remaining Pecorino Romano on top.
  8. Bake until bubbly and brown on top for about 15 minutes.
  9. Turn off oven and leave in there for a few minutes for the sauce to set a bit.
  10. Serve immediately afterwards while still hot.
  • It’s important to watch out the measurements of the cheeses.  The right amount will melt beautifully and create the most wonderful sauce.  When I started to eye-ball the amounts, sometimes the results were not as I expected. 
  • I make this recipe right in my toaster oven…    
  • And the recipe doesn’t reheat very well.  It will still be tasty, but the sauce becomes a bit oily…  just so you know.  This is one of those recipes to make and eat in the moment.  Every time I do it for company, people can’t believe that came out of a home kitchen.  It’s unbelievable!!!

I served this last night with my Cinammon Vanilla Plantains and my Super Easily Dressed Green Salad.  Oh, and I also did my Garlic Parsley Breadsticks.

Buen Provecho.

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