Winter squash risotto – Risotto di zucca

This method—creating a vegetable broth, including onions, and then adding it slowly to rice that gradually absorbs the liquid—can be applied to any risotto. Feel free to use it with potatoes or cabbage instead of squash/pumpkin, but note that the other broth ingredients must adjust to compliment each vegetable’s flavor.

Ingredients (Serves four):
A butternut squash or pumpkin (2 ¼ pounds)
2 small white onions
Water (½ liter)
Coarse cooking salt (to taste)
Sugar (2 tablespoons)
Ground ginger (a teaspoon, or to taste)
Rosemary (1-2 sprigs)
Rice for risotto (just over ½  pound)
Olive oil (approximately ½ cup—enough to fill the base of a pot)
Optional: butter (1-2 ounces)
Optional: Grana cheese (to taste)
Select a fresh butternut squash or pumpkin.
Cut squash open, removing seeds and internal strings.
Slice off the squash’s external skin and discard it.
Chop remaining flesh into small cubes.

To create the broth:
Place cubs in a large pot.
Remove and discard the skin from both onions, then slice the onions into pieces (they do not need to be finely chopped).
Add the onion to the squash.
Pour the water over squash and onions, and place the pot on the stove over high heat.
Add two teaspoons of salt, two tablespoons of sugar, and one teaspoon of ground ginger.
Allow the broth to boil, and continue boiling until squash becomes soft and tender (about 5 minutes of boiling necessary).
Remove pot from heat.
Leaving the broth in the pot, mash most of the squash and onions using a fork or mixer. Stir.
Add the sprig(s) of rosemary to the pot. Stir thoroughly and cover.
Place broth over a low flame, as it must remain hot.

To prepare the rice:
In another pot, add olive oil until it fully covers the bottom, plus a bit extra.
Add two ladlefuls of broth to this pot and place it on a low flame.
When the oil/broth has become hot and bubbled slightly, add rice to it.
Once the rice is boiling, and it has absorbed much of the initial oil/broth, begin to add more broth, little by little.
Pause between broth additions so that the rice can absorb each portion of liquid thoroughly.
In total, the rice should cook for 13-15 minutes (check box to determine exact cooking time).
Stir for the entire time the rice is cooking, since it will burn after just seconds at a standstill.
After 15 minutes, taste the rice to determine whether it is fully cooked.
When the cooking time is up, turn off the stove.
Add 30-50 grams of butter, if desired (this promotes cohesion of ingredients, but is not necessary).
Transfer the rosemary sprig(s) to the rice, if desired.
Cover pot for 10 minutes and let sit. (The table can be set during this period of time.)
Taste once more. The rice should have absorbed nearly all of the broth.
Add Grana cheese, if desired—but be aware that it may mask the squash’s delicate taste.
Red wine is suggested to accompany the meal.


winter squash risotto