We've used a classic Italian risotto method, but added different textures of pumpkin at different times. We've added roasted pumpkin chunks and toasted pumpkin seeds to the top of the risotto to serve, while there is both cubed pumpkin and a velvety pumpkin puree cooked in with the rice!
Essentially, cooking risotto is a simple process made with simple ingredients...but making it really well takes a lot of good technique. Skip a few special steps, and you simply won't get the same results. For example, making sure you toast the rice dry in the pan with the oil and the onion before adding stock; or making sure that when you add the butter and cheese at the end of the process, you jiggle the pan and stir energetically off the heat so as to get cool air into the melting fats and create something ultra creamy!
Here's our ultimate pumpkin risotto recipe:
Risotto con Zucca
- 4 large handfuls of risotto rice - Carnaroli or Vialoni Nano varieties are best
- 1 large or 2 small onions, finely diced
- 1 stick celery
- 2 carrots
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- ½ large pumpkin, cleaned of seeds and peeled
- Fresh rosemary
- 200ml dry white wine
- Good extra virgin olive oil
- Parmesan cheese
- Salt, pepper and nutmeg to season
- Pumpkin seeds, toasted in olive oil, to serve
- Peel, chop into chunks and roast a third of the pumpkin in a hot oven with salt, extra virgin olive oil and a few sprigs of rosemary for around 30 mins, until tender and lightly browned. Set aside.
- Boil another third of the pumpkin, in wedges, in a large pan of lightly salted water, until soft. Take the pumpkin out of the water (reserving the cooking liquid), remove the flesh from the skin and puree with a stick blender or food processor, season with salt and black pepper. Set the pumpkin puree aside. Add some celery and carrot (and any other stock vegetables like onion/garlic/leeks) to the pumpkin cooking water and simmer for 30 mins. This is now your stock for the risotto - keep it warm, ready for cooking the rice.
- Peel and finely dice the rest of the pumpkin and cook in a frying pan with a glug of olive oil, the garlic and large pinch of chopped rosemary, until just soft. Set aside.
- In your risotto pan, fry the onion in another good few glugs of extra virgin olive oil on a low-medium heat for around 5-10 minutes, until the onion is soft all the way through and translucent, but not browned. Add the rice - a large handful per person, and toast in the oil and onion for a few minutes. Pour in the wine, and reduce until it has mostly evaporated.
- Add a couple of ladles of the stock and stir into the rice. Keep the risotto on a medium heat, stir regularly, and once the stock has mostly been absorbed, add a few more ladles. Repeat this process for around 15 minutes until the rice is almost cooked. After 2 or 3 minutes of starting the process, add the pumpkin puree. After around 10 minutes, add the chopped, fried pumpkin.
- As the rice nears ‘cookedness’, add the stock in smaller amounts so you can check the rice regularly and assure it doesn’t overcook. It’s ready when the risotto is creamy, but the inside of the grain still has a little bite. You don’t want the risotto to be too dry so make sure there is a good amount of sauce at the end of the process - it will thicken when we add the butter and cheese so take it off the heat when it's still pretty soupy.
- Take the risotto off the heat and rest for 1 minute. (If it’s too hot when you start the next stage it could split). Add a small knob of butter per person, and a large handful of Parmesan cheese and mix vigorously, shaking the pan as you do so. This process will make the risotto ultra creamy as the air cools the melted butter and cheese. Season well with salt, pepper and a little nutmeg. Top with the roasted pumpkin (warm this up first) and the toasted pumpkin seeds. Enjoy!