29 September 2009

Pumpkin risotto tutorial

I love risotto. It's one of those easy to modify recipes that almost everyone likes - including vegetarians, and I'm sure you could modify this recipe to suit vegans as well. My two favourite risottos are pumpkin and mushroom. There is something about those two vegetables that make this dish something really special. Here is my version of pumpkin risotto, the ingredients are enough for two people.

2 cups of uncooked pumpkin - I used a Japanese pumpkin but you could also use butternut squash, Queensland Blue pumpkin, the little Kent or Golden Nugget pumpkins. Choose a rich dark orange pumpkin that can be baked in the oven and hold its shape.
1 cup uncooked Arborio rice - or some other rice suitable for risotto. Ordinary rice will not work in this dish. Risotto rice swells up and absorbs the liquid added in this recipe. It also releases its starch into the dish and you end up with a very creamy rice.
Homemade vegetable stock - more on this below
Olive oil
Parmesan cheese

Into a large sauce pan pour two litres/quarts of water.
Add whatever vegetables you have on hand - chopped. I used celery, carrot, corn, onion, garlic and parsley. Add the parsley in one piece so you can remove it at the end of the cooking period. Don't add strong flavours like cabbage or parsnips because they'll take over the flavour of the dish.

Add salt and pepper to your taste. Remember, adding salt to food, especially to vegetables, brings out their flavour. It's very important to season food as you cook. Put the lid on the pan and bring to the boil, then simmer for about 30 minutes. Strain the vegetables out of the stock before you use it. The stock must be boiling when you add it to the rice.


Chop of the pumpkin into bit sized pieces, toss over a little extra virgin olive oil (or whatever oil you use), add salt and pepper to taste and bake in the oven until golden and soft. You can see we are adding salt and pepper again. Each layer of this dish should be seasoned as it cooks. Combining properly seasoned and cooked layers will give you a well rounded final dish that shouldn't need further seasoning at the table.

When the pumpkin is cooked, put it to one side until it's needed.

You will need your saucepan of boiling stock right next to your frying pan on the stove. You will be scooping the stock into the frying pan so the frying pan needs to be on the heat and so does the stock. You'll need a soap ladle for adding the stock and a wooden spoon to stir the risotto.

Add a splash of olive oil to your frying pan and turn on the heat. When it's hot, add the rice and stir it around until every grain is coated in oil.

Then start adding the stock to the rice. You start by adding two scoops, then stir the rice until the liquid is totally absorbed. When you add the stock it will look like the photo below.

When enough of the stock has been absorbed to go to the next stage, it will look like the photo below.

Keep adding the stock one scoop at a time, and keep stirring. Stirring the rice is an important element of this dish. It releases the starch from the rice to make a creamy risotto. When the liquid has absorbed into the rice, add another scoop of stock. Keep doing that until almost all the stock is gone and then add the baked pumpkin pieces. This part of the process will take about 15 - 20 minutes.

Let the rice simmer on the heat while it absorbs the liquid and while that is happening, grate some Parmesan cheese. Please use a piece of cheese, not that horrible stuff already shredded in the packet.

You'll only need a small amount of cheese. This photo looks like a lot but it's only a small piece that's been fluffed up by the Microplane grater.

Add the cheese to the rice and stir in. It's almost ready now. What you're looking for now is creamy rice that is not dry but not too liquid.

Keep stirring gently until it reaches a point you're happy with. If you look at the top photo, that it the consistency to aim for.

Risotto is genuine home cooking at its best. It's simple, yet complex enough to guarantee you good food for your family or guests. The best risottos are home made. Restaurants often put risotto on the menu but you need mama standing at the stove stirring to make a great risotto, and it needs to be served immediately. Leaving risotto in a warm oven dries it out. Restaurants can't afford the time to keep one chef on one serving for 20 minutes. So if you want good risotto, make it at home.

I hope you enjoy it.



  1. I also love Risotto, it's a meal that can satisfy many with all its variations.

    Also, thats an excellent step by step and wish I had it a long time ago when I first started making it.

  2. Oooo lovely, I love rissoto also and I brough home a Queensland Blue from the allotment this afternoon. I often add mushrooms but never tried pumpkin. This is going to be added to the menu plan for later in the week.


  3. Mmmm..yummo. Looks like my dinner is organised for tonight. Thanks Rhonda. Have a lovely day.
    Congratulations for yesterday too.
    I hope those fires aren't near you. Take care Sue

  4. Good morning Rhonda, that risotto looks lovely. I made two truly dreadful ones years ago and have not attempted one since but I am inspired to try your recipe, thank you.
    I watched a recording of the new "River Cottage Spring" yesterday and I know you would love it -- a fellow growing and cooking his own food in England. It's on ABC1 Weds at 6.10pm.

  5. I read the JAP Pumpkin IS'nt short for Japanese Pumpkin....
    Hmmmm? I wonder.
    Never the less it is by far my most Favorite variety!

  6. That looks delicious. I never thought of mixing pumpkin with risotto. I think I'll try this tomorrow. Thank you!

  7. Hello--that looks really yummy.
    I love risotto, such a comfort food. I chuckled a little when I saw this because I have roasted winter squash in the refrigerator right now that will go into risotto tomorrow. I roasted it tonight when I baked pizza for our dinner.

    I use a short grain brown rice for mine--it takes longer to cook but I like the added flavor and nutrition.

  8. I make this often and love it! I puree the pumpkin so I can get away with my kids eating it, but can't add too much or it adds too much moisture. It had never occurred to me to leave chunks like you do, I'll have to give it a try.

  9. Your risotto looks delish Rhonda.I have tried it a couple of times but never had much luck with it.Prefer the ones baked in the oven.I will give it another shot one day.


  10. YUM! A cafe next to work does a wonderful pumpkin risotto for lunch but at $15 a pop, it is a treat only. Now I can make my own for considerably less. Thanks Rhonda!

  11. Hi Rhonda,

    Thanks very much for this - I love risotto. I'd love to know how you make the mushroom one also. I shall give this a try!

    I made the salmon mornay you wrote about a few weeks ago - it was absolutely delicious!

    I'm going to make another, this time a chicken one.

    I can see it being a family favorite for me in the years to come!

    I'm enjoying learning to cook from scratch. I made stuffed butternut squash stuffed with feta and basil a few weeks ago which is a river cottage treatment recipe - it was just delicious too! I know you have his books so I thought you might like to give that a try since you love pumpkin.

    I shall give this risotto a try and let you know how I go! :)

    Chantel from Ashfield

  12. Thank you, Rhonda, for this tutorial. Risotto hasn't been my favourite dish, probably because I've had a badly made one. I do know my family like risottos so I'll give this one a whirl soon.

    Cheers - Joolz

  13. That looks absolutely delicious!

  14. Hi Rhonda,

    Firstly thank you for such a fabulous blog - I'm currently reading through the archives and finding so much that's useful and inspiring. You are making such a difference.

    Secondly I saw in a post earlier this month that you are doing the tedious task of going through your photos. I had to do a similar task for my PhD, and found a free program called photomesa which helped enormously. You can download it from photomesa.com - I hope it helps.

    Thanks again

    Sarah in Sydney

  15. I just love risotto and mushroom is my favourite. I will have to try pumpkin now. A microplane grater is just wonderful and it is a marvel. It makes it quick and easy to can create a cloud of parmessan.

  16. That looks sooo good! Mushroom risotto for dinner sometime this week...

  17. I love risotto too, especially mushroom. I've chosen it when out to eat a few times and been disappointed. A couple of times it was like rice pudding and another time it was just ordinary rice (not arborio) with mushrooms. I have more success making it at home but unfortunately my husband isn't keen on it.

  18. Nice risotto!

    Like you, I use risotto as a go-to base for just about anything. I never liked the whole stir-constantly, keep-the-stock-boiling thing, though, so I did a blind taste test years ago.

    One risotto was made traditionally. One was made by adding stock intermittently, and stirring just when the stock was added. A third was made like rice -- put in the liquid, cover, and cook 'til it's done.

    There were differences in the three, but they were small. If you like risotto, but need to multitask during dinner prep, it'll still come out fine.

    I''m going to try your version with one of the butternut squashes we harvested last week.

  19. Oooooh...that looks simply delish!!! I love squash, pumpkin, and all that sort of thing, and since the weather here has turned into the perfect Fall weather, it's the perfect time to make it! Looks wonderful! Thanks so much for the recipe. :D

  20. thanks Sarah, it's a really good program.


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