Thursday, October 11, 2012

Pumpkin Risotto

I am so excited to share this authentic Italian recipe that I received from an Italian friend! While living in Italy we participated in the Amici program which matches American families with Italian families who share similar interests and whose kids are the same gender or close in age. We were matched with a wonderful family, the Lorenzos.  Despite the language barrier we had great times together. The dad, Enzo, and the boys, Riccardo and Federico, speak pretty good English. The mom, Giusi (pronounced Juicy), didn't speak any English, and I do not speak Italian so communication was a challenge. We wished that we could talk to each other more, but were able to find common ground through shopping and cooking. This is a picture of our families a few days before leaving Italy.

The front row: Federico, Giusi, me, Graham, Riccardo
The back row: Enzo, Collin, Brandon

We spent Christmas Eve 2011 at the Lorenzo's home. Giusi is a fantastic cook! She served this Pumpkin Risotto as well as about 6 other delicious dishes.

Risotto is a very popular rice dish in Italy.  The rice is cooked in either meat or vegetable broth and usually includes butter, parmesan cheese, and onions.

According to the World Encyclopedia of Cooking Ingredients, the most popular variety of risotto is Arborio, Vialone Nano, and Carnaroli. Arborio is the best-known Italian risotto; Vialone has a plump grain and a firm inner starch, so that risottos made using this rice tend to have slightly more bite; Carnaroli is a premium rice and has a firm bite.

Risotto Rice

When cooking Risotto it must be constantly tended to and cannot be left to simmer like typical rice.  Broth is added gradually and must be stirred occasionally until absorbed. This is repeated until the rice is done. This is not a fix-it and forget-it dish, but the results are truly worth the effort.

The original recipe calls for sausage. I didn't add sausage. Instead I chopped one piece of bacon and added it to the onions for flavor. The results were awesome. I have included the original recipe with my changes in parentheses.

This Pumpkin Risotto is so flavorful and beautiful making it perfect for a special occasion or entertaining.

Buon Appetito!

Pumpkin Risotto
yields: 4 servings 
with sausage
calories: 781
fat: 41
without sausage
calories: 594
fat: 25.8

400 grams pumpkin 
300 grams risotto rice (Arborio or Carnaroli)
3 Italian sausages (I used 1 piece of bacon instead)
1/2 onion
1/2 glass of white wine
About 1/4 cup olive oil 
1 liter chicken or veggie broth
1- 1 1/2 cups parmesan cheese (I love the robust flavor of parmigiano reggiano, but it is quite expensive.)
1-2 Tbsp butter (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Peel pumpkin and cut into small pieces (approximately 1/4 inch cubes).
  2. Peel and cut onion into thin strips.
  3. Saute onions in olive oil until browned. 
  4. Remove casing from sausage and crush with fork and add to onion (I added the bacon instead).
  5. Saute the meat and add the white wine and let it evaporate.
  6. Add pumpkin letting it cook for about 10 minutes over low heat. 
  7. Add the rice and let it toast.
  8. Pour in broth gradually stirring often. 
  9. You can mash the pumpkin with fork if it is not fully cooked and allow it to fully cook. 
  10. When rice is cooked add butter if desired, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, and chives to taste. 
After rice is cooked, taste test to determine how much butter, cheese, salt, pepper, and chives need to be added. 

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