Pumpkin risotto with sage and arugula

December 31, 2014 at 4:30 pm (Derek's faves, Fall recipes, Grains, Italian, Meyer & Romano, Necessarily nonvegan, Starches, unrated, Winter recipes)

I’m doing an end-of-the-year pantry cleaning, and wanted to use up some risotto rice. Derek and I looked at a couple of different recipes and finally decided on this pumpkin risotto recipe from the Union Square Cookbook. The recipe first has you make a pumpkin broth using standard vegetable broth ingredients (onion, leek, celery, carrots, etc.) as well as 2 cups canned pumpkin puree, maple syrup, and sweet spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. Once the broth is made, you make the risotto, adding diced winter squash along with the rice, and then tossing in fresh sage, arugula, and mozzarella right before serving.


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 3/4 cups arborio rice
  • 1 1/2 cups diced (1/2 inch) fresh pumpkin, butternut, or other firm-fleshed squash
  • 6 to 7 cups sweet-spiced pumpkin broth
  • 1 Tbs. minced fresh sage
  • 2 cups arugula, washed and chopped
  • 1/3 cup diced fresh mozzarella
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly grated black pepper
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (3/4 ounce)
  • 3 Tbs. butter


  1. In a large saucepan, heat the pumpkin broth to a simmer.
  2. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a separate, 3-quart heavy saucepan or skillet. Toss in the rice and diced pumpkin and stir with a wooden spoon untilt he rice is coated with the oil. Add the white wine and stir constantly until all the wine has been absorbed by the rice.
  3. Ladle 1/2 cup of hot pumpkin broth into the pan and stir until it is absorbed. Continue with the resot fof the broth, adding 1/2 cup a t a time and letting each addition be absorbed completely by the rice before adding more liquid. The constant stirring allows the rice to release its starch into the cooking liquid, resulting in the characteristic risotto creaminess. The grains of rice should be al dente. Count on 20 to 25 minutes for the rice to cook.
  4. Finish by stirring in the sage, arugula, mozzarella, salt, pepper, and half the cheese. Swirl in the butter. Spoon into warm bowls, sprinkle with the remaining cheese, and serve immediately.

My notes:

We made this recipe twice. The first time I made the pumpkin broth recipe exactly as called for (using a medium onion, 2 carrots, 1 celery rib, 1 leek, and 2 cups canned pumpkin puree, plus all the spices). The second time we used a few cups of the leftover pumpkin broth and just used regular vegetable broth for the remainder. I didn’t notice a big difference in flavor, but Derek thought it was better the first time. I certainly didn’t notice much addition of sweetness from the maple syrup or the cinnamon-nutmeg-allspice mixture. Perhaps next time I’ll just use my regular odds-and-ends vegetable broth plus some pumpkin puree and some sweet spices.

We used quite a bit more diced squash than the recipe calls for. We didn’t measure it but I’m guessing we used about 3-4 cups rather than the 1.5 cups in the recipe. We also used more sage (1.5 – 2 Tbs.?) and more arugula (3-4 cups?).

I really liked the addition of the peppery arugula to the risotto. It adds a fresh, green note and helps cut through the richness of the dish.

Overall I liked this recipe, but I didn’t love it. It’s pretty easy if you don’t have to make the pumpkin broth first, so maybe if I skip this step I’ll up my rating a bit.

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