Pumpkin, sage and gorgonzola risotto

left: original artwork, right: the tea towel itself (creased, stained and used)
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Pumpkin season isn't all about spiced lattes.

The overgrown, water-pumped Halloween pumpkins in our supermarkets are capable of creating slightly bland pumpkin dishes, but the taste is nothing compared to the seasonal, sweet pumpkin used in pasta and risotto dishes in the northern region of Reggio Emilia. If you’re able to find some good, sweet pumpkins this season, try this pumpkin, gorgonzola & sage risotto (which doesn’t involve the artistry required for tortelloni di zucca). If you can only get hold of Halloween pumpkins, just ensure you soak up as much water as you can after it has been roasted.

serves 4

Big saucepan, small frying pan and roasting tray
1.5 kg pumpkin
(a big ‘un)
280g risotto rice
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic
(finely sliced)
1 onion
100ml white wine
(dry white wine is better)
1 litre stock
(whichever you prefer)
50g gorgonzola
(or as much as you like)
40g parmesan
10g butter
10-15 sage leaves

  • Chop the pumpkin into roughly 10cm chunks and place on a baking tray coated in 4 tbsp of the olive oil and salt. Roast for 30-40 minutes at 200 (or until the pumpkin is soft in the middle). You can peel the skin off more easily once it’s roasted
  • While the pumpkin is cooking, start on the risotto. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large saucepan on a medium heat, when hot add the onion and cook for 3 minutes before adding the garlic
  • As the garlic starts to turn golden, add the risotto rice and stir so that all rice is coated in the oil (you can add more oil if required). Cook for 1 minute
  • Pour in the wine and stir quickly for a minute before pouring in a quarter of the stock. Stir occasionally to prevent the rice from sticking to the base of the pan and turn the heat down to medium-low
  • When the first quarter of stock is absorbed, add another quarter of the stock. Repeat this until the stock is finished, stirring often until the risotto becomes more creamy. Taste and add seasoning if necessary
  • Your pumpkin should now be ready. Peel off the skin and drain any excess water which surfaced during roasting. Mash it up a little with the back of a fork and add more salt to taste (if you think you won't need all this pumpkin for the risotto, save the roasted pumpkin to make soup or pumpkin muffins)
  • Heat the butter in a small frying pan on medium-high, when hot add the sage leaves and fry until they crisp up slightly
  • Remove the risotto from heat when the consistency is right for you and quickly stir in the parmesan and gorgonzola first, then slowly add the pumpkin and stir until combined (don’t over-stir at this point or your risotto will end up too porridge-y)
  • Serve in bowls with the sage leaves on top. Add a drizzle of nice olive oil, a grating of parmesan or toasted pine nuts if you like!