Italian Regional Recipes Primi Piatti: Pasta, Rice, Soups

Pumpkin Risotto with Amaretti Biscuits

Amaretti are small crunchy almond biscuits, a staple in many Italian homes but everyone’s recipe is different, even if the quick mental association that immediately one makes it is related to Saronno, a city in Lombardy famous for its Amaretto di Saronno liquor and for the related Amaretti biscuits. They’re the perfect treat to enjoy at the end of a meal or a great idea to accompany a coffee or a cup of tea. But who would think of sprinkling amaretti crumbs on top of a savoury dish?

This risotto is not an unusual experiment, but actually a traditional Lombard recipe. Because the pumpkin has a sweet undertone, the slightly bitterness of the Amaretto actually enhances its taste. A bit of butter and some Parmigiano, and this risotto will be ready to convince you, too.
Note to mention, the pumpkin-filled ravioli include Amaretti biscuits in Lombardy region.


Serves: 4 | Preparation time: 10 mins | Cooking time: 20 mins

  • Carnaroli or Arborio rice: 350 g
  • Pumpkin: 300 g
  • Cold butter, unsalted: 30 g
  • Vegetable broth: 1 and 1/2 liter
  • White wine, dry: 50 ml
  • Rosemary, fresh: a sprig
  • Amaretti biscuits – not glazed and not icing sugar covered: about 5
  • Shallots, medium-sized: 1
  • Salt and pepper: to taste
  • a pinch of nutmeg

Method

Prepare the classic vegetable broth with onion, carrot, celery or any vegetables you have at hand, otherwise use a stock cube.

Clean the pumpkin, peel it and dice its flesh into small cubes.

Cut the shallot very finely. Heat up a spoonful of oil and brown it along with rosemary sprig. Reduce into powder 3 Amaretti biscuits.

Add pumpkin cubes to the pan, cook it by stirring continuously for about 10 mins. If the pumpkin gets too dry, add a ladle of vegetable broth. Remove rosemary sprig.

Melt 20g of butter in another saucepan – store the other 10 g of butter in the fridge –  add rice and toast it for a few minutes until it becomes translucent, stirring it often to avoid from burning or sticking to the bottom of the pan. Pour in the wine and let it simmer over high heat until it is completely evaporated, then lower the heat.

Keep the rice on low heat, add hot vegetable broth a ladle at a time until the rice is cooked through. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer both pumpkin and shallot in a food processor and blend them just enough to get a cream with fairly homogeneous texture and just a few bigger pumpkins pieces. Add a pinch of nutmeg, grated Parmigiano and a teaspoon of amaretti powder, stir with a spoon and then combine the cream to the rice in the pan.

Turn off the heat, add the remaining cold butter. Serve risotto garnished with some crumbled Amaretti.

Tip: If you cannot prepare or use some vegetable broth, you can try using unflavoured hot water; the result will be different, but equally satisfying.

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