Pumpkin Risotto – The Perfect Fall Dish

Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Drilnoth/Gallery

Yes, I know, you hear the word “risotto” and you immediately think “endless stirring” or “too difficult” or “not worth the effort.”   I am here to be you to tell you that none of these things is true.

You can believe me, because I used to feel exactly the same way.  That was until I was living in South London and had a flatmate who thought nothing of using whatever happened to be in the cupboard or refrigerator to cook up a pot of the tasty stuff, usually while coming and going from the kitchen, and generally doing other things.  Of course, my competitive side emerged; if she can do it, so can I.  And I discovered, I could.  And you can too.

While I have a couple of favorites (shrimp with fennel, and mushroom), there was a cooking segment on this morning’s Today Show which got me on the risotto theme, so I’ll stick with their suggestion for today.  It sounds amazing, it’s healthy, and it’s seasonal to boot: Pumpkin Risotto, courtesy of Beau MacMillan, executive chef of Sanctuary on Arizona’s Camelback Mountain.  The recipe is included below.

The one piece of advice I will give – picked up while watching a video of Mario Batali preparing risotto – is, as you add the stock (the liquid) to the arborio rice, do not let it absorb all the way before adding more; leave a little excess liquid when you add the next ladle.  I don’t know why it works, but it does.  Your risotto will be al dente (as it should be).

Buon appetito!


Recipe: Pumpkin risotto

Beau MacMillan

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 4 cups hot chicken stock
  • 2 cups fresh pumpkin juice
  • 1 each medium pumpkin, peeled, roasted and pureed (reserve one cup)
  • 1 cup diced pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2 ounces fried sage
  • 2 ounces sage pesto

In a medium-size heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.

Add the onion and bay leaf and saute, stirring continuously, just until softened, which takes about three to four minutes.

Add the rice and continue to stir, using a wooden spoon, to coat the rice with the oil.

Add the white wine and continue cooking, stirring often, until it has been absorbed by the rice.

Add the diced pumpkin and pour in small amount chicken stock and pumpkin juice and stir.

Cook and allow rice to absorb. Repeat until all the liquid has been used.

Stir in the pumpkin puree and the diced pumpkin and reduce the heat to very low so that the risotto doesn’t simmer anymore.

Stir in the parmesan, mascarpone and butter to give the risotto a nice, creamy finish. Spoon it immediately into heated shallow serving bowls.

Garnish with fried sage and a dollop of sage pesto.