We asked our chef Monika to create a comforting recipe with zuccca, which generically translates as pumpkin in English but we’re talking about the delicious edible squash varieties that are available in most regions all fall and winter. We’ve got quite an impressive crop in our kitchen garden, so she’s been making cream of squash soup and other warm, wintry foods, but this risotto is one of our favourites. We’ve filmed her as she has made her squash risotto with blue cheese step by step.
- A large piece of zucca, cut into slices and slowly roasted in the oven with some olive oil. We use a local Sienese variety. Butternut or acorn squash is a good substitute in the USA.
- Arborio, cannaroli or vialone nano rice, 80 grams per person
- Vegetable broth, prepared in a separate pan, at least twice as much as the rice
- Clarified butter flavoured with shallots (small onions)
- Parsley blended with olive oil (see video to see how this is done) for the topping
- Blue cheese or gorgonzola, cut into cubes
- A bit of grated parmesan cheese
- Regular butter
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Dievole White wine
- First, cut the squash into large pieces, drizzle with olive oil, and bake in the oven until soft. (Time will depend on the type of squash, the oven, the size of the pieces, etc.)
- Remove the skin of the squash, put in the blender to make a squash cream.
- In a saucepan, melt a tablespoon of your shallot-flavoured butter (if available, otherwise just regular butter or a combination of butter and olive oil works well). Add the rice on high heat to toast it with a dash of Dievole white wine for 2 minutes.
- Then, scoop in a generous amount of your squash cream, stir. Add broth to cover, simmering on high heat and stirring constantly. Lower the heat, adding broth as it starts to be absorbed.
- Cook time will depend on the type of rice used, so follow package directions, adding broth until it tastes cooked. The rice should be just al dente, and the mixture should be still quite liquid (see photo) so that by the time you get to the end of eating the dish, it will still taste great.
- In the meantime, prepare your parsley decoration: blanch the parsley and put it on ice to cool, then blend in a blender on high with extra virgin olive oil to obtain a green liquid.
- Now it’s time to blend the rice with the blue cheese and some butter and parmesan. Still in your saucepan, add butter, parmesan, and then the blue cheese. “Roll” it together by tossing the contents of the pan, if possible, rather than stirring. Let the cheese melt naturally by covering the pan with a clean dishcloth for 2 minutes, then roll or stir again.
- Ready to serve: put your risotto in a concave pasta dish and if you wish, a few blue cheese cubes on top to decorate. With a large spoon, drizzle your parsley oil in concentric circles on top.