This pumpkin risotto is a deliciously creamy autumnal risotto that is simplicity itself. It is always a favourite with us at this time of year, when pumpkins start appearing in the shops like there’s no tomorrow.
Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
Table of contents
If you are new to cooking risotto, I suggest you head on over to the Basic Risotto article here on LinsFood. It’s full of everything you need, to master the art of cooking risotto.
On the basic risotto post, we talk about:
- the history of risotto
- risotto rice
- risotto stock
- risotto science (!)
- fat for risotto
- stirring or no stirring
- mantecatura – the art of creaming with the addition of fat (butter, olive oil, cheese), how we finish cooking risotto
In other words, everything you ever wanted to know about risotto. But were too afraid to ask!
Pumpkin Risotto Recipe
As with most risotto recipes, today’s risotto alla zucca is super easy to cook, the only hard part about the recipe (if at all), is the cutting of the pumpkin. If truth be told, it’s one of my least favourite things to do, but I shall talk you through it in this post, with pictures.
If you can’t be bothered spending time on cutting up the pumpkin, you should be able to find packs of chopped up pumpkins in large supermarkets. That’s certainly the case here in the UK.
This is what we’ll be doing:
- Chop up the pumpkin and onion.
- Sautè the onion.
- Sautè the pumpkin in the same pan.
- Add the rice, followed by the (optional) white wine.
- Add the stock, and cook for about 15 minutes.
- Optional step of the chilli pumpkin topping (5 minutes).
What do you think? Sounds easy, doesn’t it?
Let’s take a quick look at some of the things of note in this recipe.
What size pumpkin to use?
The smallest you can find, but not quite the mini ones! We’ll be using 500g (1.1 lb) for the risotto itself, as I like a good amount of pumpkin in there, for the best flavour.
Then, if you are going for the topping as in here, that’s an additional 200-300g (7-10.5 oz) of pumpkin. I got a small pumpkin to do this recipe post, and half of it gave me the required 800g (about 1.8 lb).
All these weights are of the pumpkin flesh itself, minus the skin and seeds, etc. So if you are going to get ready, chopped up pumpkin, that’s the weight you’ll be aiming for.
Stock in our Pumpkin Risotto
Just make sure to use good quality, shop bought stock. These days, that shouldn’t be hard to do at all. You can even find fresh stock in the fridge aisles of supermarkets, next to the raw meat.
We tend to have frozen homemade stock at home, but there are always some stockpots handy for when we run out, and because they are also very convenient. These are the ones I use.
One stockpot or stock cube is usually for 500 ml (2 cups) of water. So for the recipe here, you will need 4 stock cubes or stockpots. If you are going to use cubes or stockpots, be sure to pick a good one, with no unnecessary ingredients.
Spicy Pumpkin Topping
Personally, I think that every risotto is improved by having a topping of some description, besides the cheese (for non seafood risotti). And the same goes for our pumpkin risotto today.
However, this is purely a matter of taste, you can skip the topping, if you like. And if you don’t do spicy, but still want the topping, you can follow the recipe but skip the chilli flakes.
How to Cut a Pumpkin
There are different ways one can chop up a pumpkin. Some people take the skin off first, some people halve it first, it’s all a matter of preference. I use the latter method, as described below. Be sure to get a very sharp knife.
You’ll find the process in pictures below the instruction.
- Cut the pumpkin in half with a very sharp knife.
- Then scoop out the seeds and stringy bits with a spoon, and discard.
- Lay the pumpkin cut side down, and start cutting down in wedges. You could, if you wanted, take the skin off first at this stage. This is what I usually do, but for some reason, went on to the next step here. I’ll update this asap, when I have a photo.
- If you didn’t take the skin off before step 3, now’s the time to do. Just lay your wedges down on their sides, and slice the skin off.
- Now, put aside 300 g (10.5 oz) of the skinless wedges for the topping, and chop the rest of them up into cubes about 2.5cm/1inch in size.
- Now, very carefully, slice the 300 g of the wedges into thin slices. Set aside until needed.
That’s it, I think we’ve covered the basics. I’ve addressed the ins and outs of risotto cooking in extreme detail over on our Basic Risotto post. So if you’re looking for things like to stir or not, what pot, what rice, what stock and why to all these questions, click here to go over to the Basic Risotto page.
Shall we get our aprons on?
More Risotto Recipes
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Pumpkin Risotto (Risotto alla Zucca)
- A good knife if starting with an actual pumpkin.
- A saucepan at least 20 cm (8") across.
- A medium-large frying pan for the spicy pumpkin topping.
- 1¼ litres vegetable stock (or chicken stock)
- 800 g pumpkin flesh ½ a small pumpkin
- 1 onion medium
- 2 Tbsp EV olive oil
- 250 g Vialone Nano rice or any risotto rice
- 125 ml dry white wine skip, if you don't do alcohol
- freshly ground black pepper
The Finishing (Mantecatura)
- 30 g cold salted butter
- 60 g parmesan cheese
Chilli Pumpkin Topping
- 300 g pumpkin slices
- 30 g salted butter
- ½ tsp red chilli flakes
- 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
- Place your stock, or water plus stockpots on high heat. Once it’s boiling, lower the heat down and leave it to simmer happily.
- While waiting for the stock, skin, core and chop the pumpkin up, leaving about 300g for the topping (instructions below). See instructions in the post above on how to cut a pumpkin.
Heat the olive oil on low heat and sauté the onions for 3 minutes, stirring.
Add the chopped pumpkins, stir, and leave to cook for 10 minutes, adding a small amount of stock when necessary, to stop it burning.
After 10 minutes, add the rice, and coat with all that fat, stirring well. Toast the rice for 1 minute.
- Increase the heat to medium and pour in the wine, stir, and leave to evaporate, stirring a little. Skip this step, if you don’t do alcohol.
Add 1 cup of the simmering stock and stir gently. You can take a break, it doesn’t need to be round and round constantly, just regular stirring while the stock evaporates.
When the stock has evaporated, add half a cup more of the stock, stir, and repeat this process for 13 minutes. Yes, watch the clock or put your kitchen timer on. Don't want to do all that stirring? Go over to the Basic Risotto post for suggestions.
Check the rice at the 13-minute mark. It should be just about done, depending on your rice, and the heat. Is it cooked – soft on the outside with just a bite in the middle? Is the risotto looking creamy, like a thick version of rice pudding? If it is, it’s done. If it’s not, add 1/4 cup stock, and stir. When that stock has been absorbed, check again. You shouldn’t really need to cook more than 15-17 minutes. At this point, the pumpkin will be cooked and would have been absorbed a little into the risotto, colouring it. However, you should have cubes of pumpkin.
- Then check the seasoning – does it need salt? Add some if you think it does, and stir it in.
- Take off the heat. Stir in the butter and the parmesan and stir it all in thoroughly and vigorously for a whole 30 seconds. This process is called mantecatura, read more on the Basic Risotto post.
- Cover and leave it to rest for 2 minutes before serving.
The Chilli Pumpkin Topping
- About halfway through cooking the risotto, get a medium-large frying pan, and heat the butter up on medium heat.
Before the butter browns, drop the pumpkin slices in, spreading the out. The odd overlapping is fine, but we do want them touching the pan as much as possible. Gently stir the pumpkin slices or flip the pan to cook them on both sides. The slices will soften, and be prone to breaking up, so be careful, but don't worry too much about it.
- Cook for a total of 5-7 minutes, depending on the thickness of the slices. You'll know when they are fully cooked as the pumpkin takes on a darker "wet look". And your spatula will easily pierce through. Sprinkle the chilli flakes all over. Flip or stir the slices and cook for a minute. I like a little brown, charred edges, so I increase the heat at this stage, but that's up to you. Don't forget your risotto while you're doing the pumpkin topping.
Take off the heat and stir in the balsamic vinegar. Keep warm until serving time.
- Prep time is longer than usual as it assumes you are starting with a whole pumpkin. If you are using ready to use pumpkin cubes, you only need about 10 minutes of prep time.