Risotto Alla Zucca

Pumpkin risotto

Pumpkin risotto is one of my favourite comfort foods and it’s perfect during the cooler months when squash is in season and plentiful. This cucina povera dish originates from the rural areas of northern Italy where pumpkins used to grow in abundance and rice was a staple. Go for the green, thick-skinned pumpkin if you can, but the more widely available butternut squash is just as good. I like to add a little chilli to this dish to give it a bit of a kick, but that’s entirely up to you.


Serves 4 

  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling 
  • 1 leek, finely chopped 
  • 2 rosemary sprigs, needles stripped and finely chopped
  • ½ red chilli, finely chopped (optional)
  • 450g (1lb) pumpkin flesh (peeled and deseeded weight), cut into small chunks
  • 300g (10 ½ oz) arborio rice
  • 100ml (3 ½ fl oz) white wine
  • approx. 1.5 litres (2. pints) hot vegetable stock
  • 40g (1 ½ oz) grated Parmesan cheese, plus (optional) extra for serving 


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan, add the leek and sweat over a medium 

    heat for a couple of minutes, then stir in the rosemary and chilli (if using) and continue to 

    sweat for a minute. Stir in the pumpkin flesh and cook for a minute or so. Stir in the rice, 

    making sure each grain is coated in oil. 
  2. Add the wine and cook over a low-to-medium heat until the rice has absorbed it. Add 

    a couple of ladlefuls of the hot stock, stirring with a wooden spoon until the rice has 

    absorbed it all. Add another ladleful or so of stock and stir until absorbed, then continue 

    in this way, cooking and stirring and adding more stock for about 17 minutes, until the 

    risotto is cooked to al dente. 
  3. Remove the pan from the heat, add the Parmesan and mix well with a wooden spoon. 

    Serve immediately with a drizzle of olive oil and an extra sprinkling of grated Parmesan, 

    if desired.
Extract credit to: ‘Gennaro’s Cucina: Hearty Money-Saving Meals from an Italian Kitchen’ by Gennaro Contaldo (Pavilion Books). Image credit to David Loftus.

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