Pumpkin is a favorite in the region of Emilia-Romagna, where they often use it in the stuffing for fresh pasta. I first saw pumpkin risotto there while traveling on a family vacation. I used to take my two children with me on every vacation—even work vacations that were about tasting food, seeing Italian wine producers, and learning about Italian products. Sometimes they were bored, especially if some of the meals became marathons, but other times they were able to experience games of hide in seek in fairy-tale-like wine cellars, or visit a dairy farm with all the animals to see how Grana Padano was made. Here is a recipe for the fall or winter vegetable season. The grated Grana Padano is a given, but to counteract the sweetness of winter squash I crumble some Gorgonzola Dolce on top. It makes a wonderful finish for this risotto, but if you’re not a fan, you can also finish with a drizzle of balsamic reduction.
- 6 to 7 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth or water
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 3 cups small (1/2-inch) cubes of peeled pumpkin or other winter squash
- 8 fresh sage leaves, chopped
- 2 cups Arborio or Carnaroli rice
- Kosher salt
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Grana Padano
- 2-ounce piece Gorgonzola Dolce
Put the stock in a saucepan, and warm it over low heat.
Heat the olive oil in a large, shallow Dutch oven over medium heat.
Add the onion and pumpkin, and cook, stirring often, until the onion is wilted, about 5 minutes. Add the sage, and let it sizzle for a minute. Add the rice, and stir to coat it in the oil. Cook and stir until the edges of the grains are translucent, about 2 minutes. Season with 2 teaspoons salt. Pour in the white wine, and add the nutmeg. Adjust the heat so everything is simmering, and cook, stirring often, until the wine is almost absorbed. Add enough stock to cover, and simmer until it’s almost absorbed. Continue stirring and adding more stock as it gets absorbed until the rice is creamy and a bit loose but still al dente, about 18 minutes total from the first addition of stock.
Remove the rice from the heat. Add the butter pieces, and mix vigorously to incorporate them. Stir in the grated Grana Padano. Serve immediately in shallow bowls, and crumble the Gorgonzola over the top.