Pumpkin & Brown Rice Risotto

Main Dishes

If you are Italian and think you know all about pumpkin risottos, read what variations Adri has in mind

Pumpkin Risotto
Pumpkin Risotto

You’re in for a treat! 3 in 1. The natural sweetness of pumpkin mixed with the creamy texture of risotto makes a wonderfully tasty and textured dish. However, enhancing it with Italian herbs adds sophistication while infusing it with Indian spices will add both a surprising twist and an awakening kick. I am all for variety and option. Here is a sample of how with a few simple enhancements from a single recipe you can get 3.


120 ml extra virgin olive oil
300 g finely chopped onion (2 medium onions)
3 medium garlic cloves, chopped
1 tbsp brown sugar (optional, advised if pumpkin is not so sweet)
100 g Arborio rice
300 g brown rice (short grain)
230 ml dry white wine
1.4 liters vegetable stock/ or water and bouillon
1 kg butternut squash, one half baked in the oven and then pureed; the other half, peeled, diced small, and sautéed in a little oil and butter until tender
1/2 cup grated Parmesan (optional)
50 g unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Flavor enhancment version 1 – Italian Style
1 tbsp sage, rosemary or thyme

Flavor enhancement version 2 – Indian fusion
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/4 tsp chili powder, or to taste
230 ml coconut cream


1. Heat the oven to 220 degrees. While the oven is heating peel / cut off the pumpkin skin and de-seed. Prepare half the pumpkin for baking. Cut into big chunks, place in baking tray with little water (prevents from drying) and bake in high heat for approx 30-40 minutes. Set the other pumpkin half aside.

2. Wash the brown rice and let it soak in boiled water for 30 min.

3. In the meantime, in a medium-sized heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion, garlic and brown sugar (optional) and sauté, stirring continuously, just until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Strain the water from the brown rice. Add the rice to the pan and continue to stir, using a wooden spoon, to coat the rice with the oil.

4. Add the white wine and continue cooking, stirring often, until it has been absorbed by the rice. Pour in enough stock to cover the rice completely, about 3 cups, and continue to cook, stirring often, until all the liquid is absorbed.

5. Pour in 1 cup more of the remaining stock and stir and cook until it has been absorbed. Repeat with 1 more cup. Add the remaining cup and cook, stirring, until the rice is al dente, tender but still chewy, and until most of the liquid has been absorbed. In between stirs you can dice the other half of the pumpkin into small cubes. Then sauté in oil and butter until tender and put aside. Don’t forget to keep close watch over the rice and stirring it. If you are not a multitasker better to prepare the pumpkin beforehand – a safer and less stressful option.

6. Puree the baked pumpkin. Stir in the pumpkin puree and the diced pumpkin and reduce the heat to very low so that the risotto stops simmering. Stir in the Parmesan and butter to give the risotto a creamy texture and a richer taste.

7. Serve with a side of green beans sautéed with lemon and olive oil.

Flavor enhancement version 1 – Italian Style

1. The original recxipe is sweet and tasty as it is. However, adding Italian herbs such as sage, rosemary or thyme will enrich the flavour of the dish and make it slightly more sophisticated and romantic. Personally, I like sage, fresh! if available, it adds a subtle and delicate taste. How? Simply add an herb of your choice when you sauté the diced pumpkin with the butter and oil. The aroma and flavour of the herb will infuse the butter and oil and when added to the risotto will spread easily in and throughout the dish. I can already taste it just writing about it. PS.: It goes well with a crisp white wine.

Flavor enhancement version 2 – Indian Fusion Style

1. Sweet…and…spicy. For the more daring and adventurous palates I would highly recommend to add some Indian spices. The smooth texture of the Italian style risotto with spices like curry and chilli does not only give it more depth but also a nice sidekick. The curry will add depth to the richness and smoothness of the dish, especially if you use cheese, and the chilli will give a nice complementing heat in contrast to the natural sweetness of the pumpkin. How to do it? Simply before adding the rice add the turmeric, curry, and coriander powders to the sautéed onions and stir. Let the flavours open for a couple of minutes before you add the rice. As for the chilli, add it with the coconut cream in the last stage together with the pumpkin purée. That is it. Yummy and de-liciouuuus!

Servings: 6 generous portions

Preparation Time: 35 minutes
Cooking Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour and 20 minutes


If 3 in 1 is not enough, here is another little treat – intentionally and intelligently planning for leftovers by making an extra portion or two and you will be rewarded the next day, or perhaps two. Here is a quick version about how to convert the leftover of this pumpkin risotto into risotto cakes or fritters for the next day’s meal. Simply, to a cup and a half of cooked risotto add one egg and 2 tbsp of flour, a tsp of baking powder, a bit of grated cheese if you have not already added in the original recipe; baking powder is also optional (if you like it fluffy). Mix it all together in a bowl. Heat a frying pan with little butter or oil and fry tbsp batches on medium-high heat, 3-4 minutes each side or until crispy. Makes 4-6 risotto cakes. Crunchy on the outside, soft and yummy inside.

Recipe by Adri

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