My pumpkin risotto is the ultimate in warm, cozy comfort food fit for the fall. Creamy risotto is finished with chunks of freshly-roasted pumpkin and apples, sweet sausage, sage, plus savory Gruyere and parmesan cheese, creating a little taste of love in a bowl that's brimming with the colors and flavors of autumn!
Pumpkin Risotto, the Ultimate Cozy Autumn Meal
Whenever I set out to prepare a large pan of my creamy, warming pumpkin risotto, I can't help but fondly reminisce a little about my son when he was just a wee little boy...
Our son had a bit of an obsession with teeny-tiny pumpkins during the ages of about three and four, painstakingly searching out the most unblemished and smallest specimen he could possibly find to keep on his little desk in his room, and keep him company.
See, for him, these “pet” pumpkins had a personality, and were living beings. And when fall rolled around, the two of us would spend what seemed like hours rummaging through those large, supermarket bins that house those extremely small, bright orange decorative pumpkins until the right “buddy” would be discovered and taken home.
He would then take that teeny pumpkin everywhere with him. From the park, to the store, to any place the two of us ran errands together, that tiny pumpkin was towed along, he even slept with it in his tiny hand.
It developed a childhood love of pumpkins in our son that lasted for a number of years, inspiring me to always have them around when autumn rolled in, and make use of them when developing my recipes.
Thank goodness he was OK with me cooking with the bigger pumpkins. As long as I didn't go near his tiny “chosen” pumpkin, all was just fine. 😂
And it was this sort of whimsical, childlike time in his life that ended up inspiring me to play a bit in the kitchen over the years, using fresh pumpkins as part of my ingredient list. And that's how I came up with my pumpkin risotto recipe a number of years ago.
A tried and true favorite, this creamy, warming and cozy pumpkin risotto has the colors and flavors of fall folded into it with some diced, roasted sugar pumpkin and some apples, a sprinkle of sweet Italian sausage, some sage, plus some nutty-savory Gruyere and parmesan cheese.
It is a recipe that is my personal, comforting ode to fall and to some wonderful memories of a past that was an incredibly special time for my son and I.
This pumpkin risotto is a dish filled with love and whimsy, and perhaps even a little taste of childhood, something I believe we all can use from time to time.
How to Make Risotto with Pumpkin
This pumpkin risotto is one of those recipes that requires a little extra TLC, but the end result is so worth it, so cozy.
The risotto is stirred and prepared while the diced pumpkin and apples roast, and then all of those yummy autumnal ingredients are folded into the risotto at the end, along with flavorful cheese to offer some salty notes to the slightly sweet ones.
Here's a peek at my pumpkin risotto recipe: (or just jump to the full recipe...)
- To begin, I clean and dice a sugar pumpkin as well as a couple of apples, season them with some warming spices, and then roast those until sweet and tender.
- While the pumpkin and apples roast, I prepare my risotto, stirring stock into it in increments for roughly 25-30 minutes, until creamy and tender.
- Once the roasting is done, and the risotto is cooked, I fold a small amount of butter as well as the cheeses into the risotto until melted and well-blended, then add in the chunks of roasted pumpkin and apples, some browned sweet sausage, and some sage.
- I serve the pumpkin risotto in bowls while hot and fresh, with an additional sprinkle of sage and parmesan, if desired.
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves 4
Nutrition Info: 672 calories per serving
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
Total time: 1 hour, 5 minutes
- 1 small sugar pumpkin (about 3 pounds) peeled, seeded and diced to 1/2” cubes
- 2 medium Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and diced to 1/2” cubes
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided use
- Black pepper
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 sweet Italian sausage links, casings removed and crumbled
- 3 tablespoons butter, divided use
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 cup arborio rice
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 4 cups chicken stock, very hot
- 1/4 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
- 1/4 cup shaved parmesan cheese
- 4 leaves fresh sage, chopped
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, line a baking sheet with foil, and drizzle it with a little olive oil.
- In a medium bowl, toss together the cubed pumpkin and the apples with the pumpkin pie spice, a couple of good pinches of salt and pepper, the honey and 2 tablespoon of the olive oil, and turn them out onto the foil-lined baking sheet in a single layer.
- Place these into the oven to roast for about 25-30 minutes until golden brown, stirring them a bit about halfway through the roasting to prevent them from burning on the bottom (don’t worry if the apples begin to break down); set aside once roasted.
- While the pumpkin and apples roast, begin the risotto: place a large, heavy-bottom pan (which is a couple of inches deep) over medium/medium-high heat, and once hot, add in the crumbled sweet Italian sausage, and brown it for a few minutes until cooked through. Set this aside on a plate.
- Next, add 2 tablespoons of butter and the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the hot pan to melt together, and then add the chopped onion and sweat for about 2 minutes until translucent.
- Add the arborio rice to this and gently stir, making sure to coat all the rice grains in the butter/oil for about a minute or two; then, add the white wine to the rice and onions (careful if cooking with flame), and give a gentle stir, allowing the wine to reduce until almost absorbed, but not quite completely.
- Then, begin adding the hot chicken stock to the rice mixture in 1/2 – 3/4 cup increments at a time (about 1 to 1 1/2 ladles), stirring gently to incorporate and allowing the rice to slowly absorb the stock and gently simmer (adjust your flame if necessary).
- Continue to add additional increments of stock, stirring and allowing it to almost absorb, repeating this process until the rice is soft and creamy but not mushy, roughly 25 minutes or so.
- To finish the risotto and serve, turn the heat off from under the pan; add in the remaining tablespoon of butter, the grated Gruyere, the shaved parmesan, the browned sweet Italian sausage, the roasted pumpkin and apples, and about 1/2 of the chopped sage.
- Gently fold all of these ingredients together in the pan, and spoon generous portions of the risotto into bowls, and serve immediately; garnish each serving with an additional sprinkle of the sage and an additional sprinkle of cheese, if desired.
Tips & Tidbits for my Pumpkin Risotto:
- Sugar pumpkin for flavorful results: I like to use a sugar pumpkin for this risotto recipe, as it is fairly easy to clean, seed and dice, with a nice mild flavor and tender flesh once roasted. Plus, one sugar pumpkin yields the perfect amount of roasted pumpkin for this recipe.
- Apples, for sweetness: Golden Delicious apples are my pick here, because they typically roast up nice and tender and sweet. Feel free to use whatever apples you happen to have on hand. Gala, Honeycrisp, or Jonagold are also great for this recipe.
- Creamy cheeses to add into the risotto: The reason I use Gruyere cheese here is because it has a wonderfully “nutty” flavor, with a hint of sweetness, a perfect partner for the other ingredients in the risotto. Gruyere also melts really well into the hot risotto, but feel free to use any meltable cheese you have on hand. A mild, white cheddar would work well here, or you could simply use more parmesan in place of Gruyere.
- How to reheat risotto: While it's best to eat risotto when freshly prepared and creamy, a great way to reheat any leftovers (that will become quite firm from the starches in the rice) is to warm it stovetop with a bit of stock or water added in as it heats. This (along with a pinch of patience) will help to thin the risotto a bit and loosen it up, creating a creamy, delicious texture once again.
Cook's note: This recipe was originally published in 2012, and has been updated with even more love!