Risotto alla zucca – Squash risotto

Risotto with pumpkin and star anise – Luca Nebuloni Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

Pumpkin risotto is a traditional dish of northern Italy; particularly, it is very appreciated in Lombardy. Mantua boasts a perfect quality pumpkin. There are many variants of the procedure for this traditional recipe, particularly for what concerns the cooking of the pumpkin itself. Below, we suggest the recipe that seems to be the closest to the traditional one.

Risotto with pumpkin is a fundamental institution of Italian cuisine: a first course based on the pumpkin that has all the warmth of slow cooking, genuine flavors, good smells of home. A dish of peasant origins, like many of the best words of our tradition: only intuition, practice and imagination were able to transform pumpkin and rice into a dish today celebrated by gastronomes and loved by connoisseurs. What is so special about pumpkin risotto? What makes it irresistible? Its simplicity, we would like to answer; a simplicity which contains wisdom, care, immutable gestures, necessary, without any pompous frivolity: the toasting of rice, which waterproofs the grains and gives them an extraordinary cooking resistance. The cooking is followed step by step, one ladle of broth, because boiled rice is different from a risotto. The mantecatura transforms the leftover broth into a cream that the butter then makes shiny and melting. So many small gestures of yesteryear make this dish a delight capable of conquering both the most refined palates and lovers of simple and genuine flavors. It’s a perfect dish for all occasions, from dinner for two to the Halloween party, excellent to enrich with speck, gorgonzola, or sausage. Follow our step-by-step guide: pumpkin risotto will have no more secrets for you either!

Ingredients

 Carnaroli rice 320 g 
Pumpkin 600 g 
Coppered onions 100 g 
Vegetable stock 1,5 l 
Parmesan cheese DOP 80 g 
White wine 60 g 
Butter 50 g 
Black pepper to taste 
Fine salt to taste 
Extra virgin olive oil 20 g 

How to make risotto alla zucca

To cook pumpkin risotto, start by preparing a light vegetable stock, which you will use to cook the rice. Cut up the vegetables, place them in a large saucepan, cover with water, and season with salt. Cover with a lid, bring to a boil, and cook for about 1 hour. Strain the broth and keep warm.

Move on to the pumpkin: clean it, cut it into slices and make small cubes from them. Next, finely chop the onion and place it in a large pan in which you have heated the oil. Sauté the onion over shallow heat for about 10 minutes until it is so tender that it melts. At that point, add the pumpkin and brown it for a few minutes, stirring to prevent it from sticking.

Then start adding a ladle of broth, and add more broth, little by little, until the pumpkin is cooked (about 20 minutes): it should be very tender and creamy. Separately, heat a large frying pan and throw in the rice to toast it. We use the dry method because the toasting of the rice, indispensable for the grains to keep cooking, cannot take place in a humid environment such as the one created in the pan with the pumpkin.

Then toast the rice over high heat until opalescent, often turning, so it doesn’t burn. It should take 2-3 minutes. Then deglaze with the white wine and stir immediately in order not to let it stick. As soon as the wine has completely evaporated, pour the rice into the pan with the pumpkin. Stir well to amalgamate the flavors and prevent the rice from sticking.

As soon as the risotto begins to dry out, add a ladleful of hot broth 16, and continue adding the next one little by little only when the previous one has been absorbed until the right degree of cooking has been reached. It will take 15-20 minutes, depending on the rice used. Towards the end of cooking, adjust the pepper and salt. Finally, with the heat off, stir in the butter and grated Parmesan cheese. Stir carefully, then add a last ladleful of stock if you prefer a creamier risotto (“all’onda”). Let it sit for a minute before serving, and enjoy!

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