Almost every meal I had in Italy last Fall was one of the best I’ve ever had. However, one dish that really lodged its way into my imagination (and my saliva glands) was the pumpkin risotto with amaretti cookies I enjoyed at the Museo del Violino in Cremona, Italy (you can read all about it on my blog post here). After a little experimentation, I was able to recreate it in my kitchen, and just in time for sweater weather! It’s also a great way to use up any leftover pumpkin puree (and if you’re feeling ambitious, turkey stock!) from your Thanksgiving celebrations.
I love making risotto because it’s a labour of love that requires no precise measurements. Once you master one risotto recipe, you will have mastered all risotto recipes. You can swap out the pumpkin and amaretti for butternut squash and sage, or the mascarpone and Parmigiano Reggiano for goat cheese and Grana Padano. You get the idea. Any amaretti cookie will work for this particular recipe, but I strongly suggest using the Amaretti del Chiostro cookie, which has a lot more texture and depth of flavour.
The other key ingredient for successful risotto is the vessel you make it in. I’ve fallen in love with Le Creuset’s stainless steel Risotto Pot. With its smooth, round edges, and beautiful heat distribution, the process of making risotto now feels like a ballroom dance compared to the amateur hip hop of my former standard flat-bottomed one. As long as you can keep your temperature and stirring steady, you can basically do no wrong.
This is a sweet and savoury recipe best enjoyed with a glass of prosecco at lunch.
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 4-5 tablespoons of butter
- 1 small white onion, diced
- 1.5 cups Arborio rice
- 3-4 cups vegetable or chicken stock (warm or room temperature)
- 0.5 cup white wine (Pinot Grigio is preferred)
- 2 cups pumpkin puree
- 1 cup mascarpone
- 4-5 amaretti cookies
- Pinch of nutmeg, to taste
- Salt, to taste
- Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
- After preheating risotto pot on medium-low heat for 5 minutes, add a generous drizzle of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter.
- Add and sauté onions, making sure that the edges do not burn.
- Add dry rice to pot and continue stirring.
- Slowly pour in 1 cup of stock at a time while stirring. Cover with lid for 3-4 minutes between each addition of liquid.
- Once the risotto feels cooked halfway through, add the wine, stir, and cover again.
- When the risotto feels cooked through, but still has bite (al dente), fold in the pumpkin puree and mascarpone.
- Add nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste and stir gently.
- Finish the dish by folding in some grated Parmigiano Reggiano and the rest of the butter.
- Crush amaretti cookies and fold half into risotto.
- Ladle risotto onto 2 shallow plates and sprinkle the rest of the crushed cookies on top.
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