This easy oven-baked Pumpkin Risotto with Rosemary and Chilli is creamy, luxurious and won’t tie you to the stove.
Baked Pumpkin Risotto
Over the years, risotto and l have had somewhat of a bumpy relationship. Sometimes too liquidy, other times so stodgy it looked like it had been thrown up.
The differing opinions on how to make a good risotto never helped either. Stir slowly, stir vigorously, don’t stir just shake the pan, add the liquid a ladle at a time, add the liquid all at once. Added to this was it’s utterly confidence boosting reputation as the ‘death dish’ given by Masterchef judges.
A baked pumpkin risotto, or any type of baked risotto recipe for that matter, helps remove all those dilemmas. This recipe doesn’t require constant stirring to create that comforting, creamy ‘sauce’ that envelopes the rice grains.
How does it happen?
Once the pot is removed from the oven, a vigorous stirring for a minute or two will break down the pumpkin into a puree, creating a smooth, creamy ‘sauce’. I usually like to leave a few chunky bits of pumpkin for added texture.
What you need to know
A baked pumpkin risotto requires only a few ingredients, but what’s important is that you use the right variety of rice.
The Rice: risotto gets its creaminess from the starch of the rice, so you have to be particular which brand you buy. Use only short grain rice varieties. Arborio is ideal and is available in supermarkets. Carnaroli is another short grain rice variety that is high in starch but tends to be more expensive than arborio.
The Pumpkin: Kent or butternut pumpkin/squash are perfect for a risotto. I tend to go for kent because its flesh is softer and therefore it purees more easily than butternut pumpkin/squash. My tip for maximizing that gorgeous orange colour in the risotto is to peel the pumpkin thoroughly; no green or white bits. By chopping the pumpkin into 1.5 cm / 1/2 ” cubes ensures that it will cook through in the allocated cooking time (30 minutes).
The Chilli: the heat from the chilli gives this risotto its ‘wow factor’. I also love how the flecks of red throughout the dish break up the orange colour making it even more visually appealing. Three chillies give enough heat to be noticed without being overpowering.
The Rosemary: adds a very subtle, earthy flavour. Strip the leaves from 4 sprigs of rosemary, then separate the leaves from their clusters (see photo). Chop about 1/4 of the leaves to release the oil from the rosemary and add the rest whole.
The Texture and Consistency: The best texture and consistency for a risotto is the way you like to eat it. My recipe will give you a risotto whereby the grains of rice are plump with a tiny bit of firmness in the centre. When spooned onto a plate, the risotto will spread out a little and you will be able to see the ‘sauce between each grain of rice.
Sage Leaves (optional): crispy sage leaves sauteed in butter add a beautiful, nutty element that has lots of texture. Sage leaves can be expensive, so l tend to leave them out unless it’s a special occasion.
The best way to eat a risotto is immediately. Enjoy!
Preparation Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 30 mins
- 50 g / 2oz butter (divided in half)
- 1tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 4 sprigs of rosemary (note 1)
- 3 bird’ s eye chillies sliced thinly (note 2)
- 1 1/2 cups / 300 g arborio rice (note 3)
- 4 cups warm chicken or vegetable stock / broth
- 500 g / 1lb pumpkin diced into 1.5 cm / 1/2 ” cubes (note 4)
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese plus extra for garnish
Crispy Sage Leaves
- 1 bunch sage leaves (roughly 15)
- 30 g / 1oz butter
- Preheat oven to 180 C / 350 F.
- Place butter and oil in a large pot over medium high heat (note 5).
- Add onion, sliced chilli, and rosemary. Cook until onion is soft and translucent (5 – 8 mins).
- Add the rice and stir until rice is well coated with the onion mixture (2 mins).
- Add the stock / broth and pumpkin. Stir. Wait until the liquid just begins to simmer.
- Place pot in the oven with lid and bake for 30 mins.
- Remove lid. You’ll see lots of liquid but don’t worry; it will be absorbed. Add the butter and parmesan cheese. Stir vigorously to break down the pumpkin so that it forms a puree. You might like to leave some of the pumpkin in chunky pieces.
- Spoon or ladle onto plates. Garnish with extra parmesan and sage leaves.
- Melt butter in small pan over moderate high heat. Once it begins to foam, add the sage leaves.
- Cook until crispy – roughly 2 minutes.
- Carefully remove from the pan. Transfer onto paper towels.
- The rosemary adds a very subtle flavour to the risotto.
- Chillies add an element of warmth and colour to the dish. I don’t deseed.
- Please only use Italian short grain rice such as Arborio. Arborio is the most well known and is available in supermarkets.
- Butternut pumpkin, also known as Butternut squash and Kent pumpkin are the two varieties that l recommend for a risotto. They both have a gorgeous orange colour, but l tend to use Kent pumpkin as l think it purees better than Butternut. The weight given is based on peeled and deseeded pumpkin. When peeling, you need to peel down to the bright orange flesh.
- You will need a pot that’s oven proof and has a lid.
Inspiration for this dish comes from several sources. Thank you Donna Hay, Gennaro Contaldo and Nagi from Recipetineats.