The Easiest, Creamiest, Healthiest Risotto Ever! – Risotto alla zucca

Feb
2014
18

posted by on Recipes

1 comment

pumpkin risotto logo

This is the recipe for the easiest, creamiest, healthiest risotto ever! If you follow a few simple tips, you will be sure to get your risotto right, every single time.

I’ve been making risotto for a few years now, basically since first moving to Milan. In principal its not the hardest thing in the world. You just cook some rice with meat, vegetable or spice of choice. The hard part is getting it to be sufficiently creamy to cooking the rice just right.

Here are my tips and tricks for making an awesome risotto

Tip One: Use Carnaroli rice.
Also know as the “re dei risi” (the king of all rice) for a reason. Carnaroli is perfect for making risotto due to it’s high starch content which is what helps give the creaminess to great risottos. The rice king also absorbs massive amounts of liquid while still maintaining its shape.

Tip Two: Use pumpkin.
Pumpkin is inherently creamy. Creamy pumpkin makes it easy to make a creamy risotto. I think its so creamy that there is no need to add butter and cheese at the end. (There is no butter nor cheese in the risotto pictured above.) But if you want to, please do. I mean it will no longer be the healthiest risotto ever… But if you like butter and you like cheese, you’ll just like the final result even more.

(If you follow my other tips and tricks, you will still be well on your way to an awesome risotto even if you don’t use pumpkin.)

Tip Three: Use a timer.
This will help ensure you don’t over cook your rice. Start frequently checking the doneness of your rice as you approach the suggested cook time of your particular package of rice. Risotto generally cooks in 16-20 minutes. The brand I use almost always cooks in 18 minutes.

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Trick One: Cold pot.
I heat my onions/scallions/ leeks whatever I’m using in that particular risotto recipe together with the rice, starting with a cold pot. I think this helps prevent over browning and burning. If you are not easily distracted feel free to heat them separately, vegetable first.

Trick Two: 1/2 at once.
I add 1/2 of broth all at once. I took a few cooking lessons with La Cucina Italiana, my instructor taught me this trick, which works for the first part of the risotto cooking process. His theory is that the rice moves against each other with the high temperature, forming the desired creaminess without having to stir continuously, as you are usually instructed to do when making risotto. This helps for busy home cooks like me, who I like me are doing something else while the risotto is cooking. If all you feel like doing is stand in front of your pot of risotto, stirring and day dream about your next vacation, by all means do so. I have certainly been there too.

Trick Three: Know your broth.
I almost never make fresh broth. I mean other than over the holidays who has time for that! Not even I can be bother. lol. Boxed broths are kind of a new thing here in Italy and “dado” cubes can be really salty. If the package says one cube makes 500ml I generally make 1L instead. (Meaning I add a lot more water than the package suggestion.) You’ll figure it out depending on the brand you use.

Trick Three A: Semi-homemade broth.
I also add a bit of whatever I’m making into the store purchased broth as it simmers. SEMI-HOMEMADE! For example, for the last time I made this recipe I added the greens of the leeks to the broth. And strained the broth before adding it to the rice. If I’m making seafood risotto, I’ll add the shrimp heads…

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Ingredients

150g (3/4cup) Carnaroli rice
150g ( 1/3lb or 1.5 cup) pumpkin peeled and cubed
15g (1/4 cups) leeks whites only, chopped*
1L (4 cups) low sodium vegetable broth (approx.)
88ml (1/3c) white wine
1 dry bay leaf
3 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp parsley, finely chopped
1-2 tbsp butter (optional)
1-2 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated (optional)

Serves: 2. Total cook time: 25-30 minutes

Directions
1. Simmer vegetable broth in pot on low. Cut pumpkin into cubes approx. 1.5 cm (0.75in). (No it doesn’t have too be exactly this size. Just keep in mind the final result you want. Smaller pieces means  more pumpkin ‘mush’ and fewer intact pumpkin pieces when rice is done cooking… Bigger pieces vice versa…)
2. In the meantime, add olive oil, leeks and rice to a large cold pot. Cook on medium for about 5 minutes, until leeks are soft and rice is translucent on the outside and opaque on the inside.
3. Add white wine, cook until evaporated out for another 3-5 minutes.
4. Set timer to the lower end of the rice cook time (about 15 minutes). Pour half of broth, pumpkin, and bay leaf onto rice, cook on medium high, stirring occasionally.
5. Once all the water is absorbed, continue adding a little broth (about 1/3 cup) at a time while stirring frequently (if not constantly) until reaching the estimated cook time. Taste risotto for doneness. If not finished continue adding broth a little at a time, and still stirring continuously.
6. Take off fire and remove bay leaf. Mix in parsley, butter and Parmesan cheese (if using). Check for salt and pepper. Serve and enjoy!

*You can also substitute 1/4 of a small onion instead of leeks.

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