Some pumpkins do ‘ave ’em

As the weather turns full-on winter, I lean towards food that is richer (fattier) and sweeter (fattier again). Not to say that this recipe for pumpkin risotto is in fact ‘fatty’, but I do like to add a lot of butter to it even if it’s not altogether a ‘must’. This dish is definitely on my list of satisfying comfort food and can be made with pretty much any squash, or perhaps even sweet potato. I would recommend using pumpkin/squash that you absolutely love the taste of, and it needs to be fresh because it’s flavour and sweetness will impart to the whole dish. Unlike other pumpkin risotto recipes I’ve made before, this version calls for pumpkin that is simmered gently in milk until very tender. It is then mashed into a puree with bone broth (or vege broth). This milky pumpkin-enriched broth is then used to plump up the grains of rice. I am a real fan of this method because it makes the risotto rice all the more ‘pumpkinny’. And I do love a good pumpkin or squash. There are so many varieties and they are all quite subtle in taste and texture. I don’t like the pale-flesh ones such as the spaghetti squash or turk’s turban, which I find a bit too watery in texture. In the UK, I loved autumn because onion squash would appear in my weekly vege delivery box. Onion squash is similar to the infamous crown prince pumpkin but it has a unique nutty sweetness and is so lovely and smooth in texture. I’ve been trying to find it here, but I can’t seem to track it down! As I wait for my onion squash to find me, I am enjoying trying the different varieties that can be found at my local farmer’s market. IMG_3701 Pumpkin and sage risotto
Serves 4

200 g pumpkin/squash cut into wedges, plus 350 g pumpkin/squash flesh, diced
10 sage leaves
250 ml /8 fl oz whole milk salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 onion, diced
1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
80 g butter
350 g risotto rice
80 ml vermouth
1 litre chicken stock or vegetable stock
50 g freshly grated parmesan

Put the pumpkin wedges on a baking tray and sprinkle with salt, scatter over the sage leaves, and drizzle with olive oil. Bake in the oven, while you make the risotto, for 30 minutes, or until golden brown and tender.

In a small pan cover the diced pumpkin with the milk.  Simmer over low heat for 10 minutes, or until the pumpkin is tender. Using a slotted spoon, lift the pumpkin from the milk into a small bowl and set aside. Mash the pumpkin pieces with a fork into a puree. Add knob of butter, salt, black pepper and a grating of nutmeg. Add the stock or water to the leftover milk and set over a low flame.

In a large heavy-based pan, heat the oil and melt half of the remaining butter. Add the onion to the pan and sauté it gently over a medium heat until soft and translucent. Add the rice to the pan and stir well to coat in butter and oil. Add the vermouth to the pan and let it bubble away and absorb. Start adding the milk/stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring the risotto as you do so. Add a little more once the previous ladleful has been absorbed. The rice is cooked when it is tender and creamy but still firm to bite. Take the pan off the heat and then leave the risotto to sit, covered, for 1 minute. Beat in the remaining butter and the parmesan, taste, season with salt if necessary, and then serve with a slice or two of roasted pumpkin and sage.

(Recipe adapted from


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