Welcome the flavor of autumn to your table with this comforting risotto from Julia Deane of Culinary Works. Stirring often while slow cooking allows the short grains of the Arborio rice to rub against each other, releasing starch and creating this naturally creamy, silky dish. The optional sage leaves and amaretti cookie crumbs provide wonderful accents of taste and texture.
One 3-pound pumpkin or squash (or use 1.5 cups of canned pumpkin or squash puree)
1 quart chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, minced
10 ounces (1 1/2 cups) Arborio rice
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed
3/4 cup grated Parmesan
Kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper, as needed
Sage leaves as needed (optional) – whole leaves, pan fried in butter
Crumbled amaretti cookies (optional)
Cut the pumpkin or squash in half and season with salt, pepper and olive oil. Roast for 20-30 minutes, checking at 20 minutes, until nicely softened. When cool, discard seeds and strings, then remove the flesh into a bowl. Mix the pumpkin until well combined and creamy, some lumps are okay. Heat the broth over low heat; keep warm. Heat the oil in a large pot over low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until tender and translucent, about 4 minutes. Add 2 teaspoons chopped sage and continue to cook for a minute. Add the rice and toast lightly, stirring frequently, about 2 minutes. Add enough of the broth to come 1/2 inch above the rice, and cook, stirring frequently to be sure the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom. As the rice absorbs the broth, keep adding more, 1 cup at a time. Once the rice has absorbed almost all the broth, and the grains are just tender (al dente), roughly 20 minutes, add the pumpkin puree and stir well until combined. Remove from heat add the butter and cheese and stir vigorously until the risotto is creamy. Season with salt and pepper if necessary and serve immediately on flat plates. Top the risotto with a few leaves of sage fried in butter and a sprinkling of crumbled amaretti cookies.