Roasted Pumpkin + Sage Risotto

This recipe is one of my fall favorites.
If you've never made risotto, it might seem a bit daunting, but really it's very easy. It just takes time. Stirring, stirring, stirring. It is oh so worth it. Risotto is an Italian staple, originating in the North of Italy where rice paddies are abundant. {it might also have something to do with the stick-to -the-ribs warming quality of the dish in the winter}. Canaroli is my rice of choice. It's a bit more expensive, but the finished dish depends on quality of the rice. You want the rice to be al dente, yet creamy. Once cooked, you pretty much have to enjoy it presto, right away. As the Italian saying goes, "risotto waits for no one."


1 Medium sweet pumpkin
4 cups organic chicken broth
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 cup yellow onion, chopped
1 tbsp. garlic, chopped
1/4 cup white wine
1 cup canaroli or vialone nano rice
1 cup Pumpkin Pesto
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup Parmesean cheese

Roasting the Pumpkin:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Cut the top off of the pumpkin and remove the pulp and seeds from the inside. {Save the seeds for roasting later}.
Rub the pumpkin lightly with olive oil and place on a parchment-lined sheetpan. Bake in the middle rack of the oven until golden brown and soft, about 45 minutes to an hour. The flesh of the pumpkin should be tender and easily pierced with a fork. Keep warm until ready to serve with the risotto.

Making the risotto:
Heat broth on low simmer until ready to use. In a medium- size saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Saute the onions and garlic until soft. Add white wine and reduce by half, stirring occassionally to make sure all of the rice is evenly coated and does not burn on the bottom. Turn heat to medium high. Stirring continuously, add broth by 1/2 cup increments. As the liquid evaporates, add more. Within 20 minutes , taste for a creamy texture . Add pesto and continue stirring until risotto is al dente. Stir in mascarpone and Parmesan cheese just until blended. Serve at once with fried sage leaves and grated cheese.

Making the fried sage leaves:
You can cook these just before making the risotto.
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
10-12 fresh sage leaves, washed and dried.

Heat the butter in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the sage leaves and cook just until crisp, the butter will be foamy and just turning a light brown. Remove the pan from the heat and with a slotted spoon, transfer the sage leaves to a paper- lined plate. Set aside until Ready to use.

Buon appetito!

* PHOTO CREDIT: Thanks to Edie Kirkman for her beautiful photograph taken at Whole Foods Cooking School in Atlanta.

copyright 2009 Alisa Barry


Dr. Ann DeRosa said...

Simply glorious, Alisa!

The Italian Dish said...

Classic, as always!