• Radicchio & Pumpkin Risotto


Radicchio & Pumpkin Risotto

By Jennifer McLagan

I love the winey hue that radicchio gives the rice in this dish, and the way its bitterness balances the pumpkin’s sweetness. Now I know that using the word pumpkin reveals my birthplace, but I just can’t get my head around “squash.” However, so I don’t confuse you, use a firm, dry pumpkin (or squash) like Hubbard or kabocha, which has a mild chestnut flavor.

I prefer to make risotto in small batches. This will stretch to serve four as a starter, depending on the rest of your meal; you can also double the recipe. Do use homemade stock, as it will make all the difference to the final result. You could also use a well-flavored vegetable stock to make this dish vegetarian. You’ll probably only need 2 cups / 500 ml of the stock, but it will depend on your rice, so it is better to have a little extra just in case.

Radicchio & Pumpkin Risotto

Servings: 2


  • 2  1/2 cups / 625 ml chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1/4 cup / 2 ounces / 60 g unsalted butter
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 6 ounces / 170 g pumpkin, cut into
  • 1/2-inch / 1-cm dice, about 1  1/4 cups
  • Sea salt
  • 5  1/4 ounces / 150 g radicchio leaves, rinsed and trimmed
  • 1/2 cup / 3  1/2 ounces / 100 g risotto rice (Vialone nano, Arborio, or Carnaroli)
  • 2 tablespoons white wine or dry vermouth
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Parmesan cheese


Pour the stock into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat so the stock barely simmers.

In another saucepan, melt half the butter over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook until translucent. Add the diced pumpkin and stir to coat the pieces with the butter. Season with salt, and cook until the pumpkin starts to soften slightly at the edges, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the radicchio leaves in half lengthwise, then crosswise into ¼-inch / 6-mm strips. You should have about 4 cups / 1 l.

Add the rice to the pan, stirring to warm the grains and coat them in butter. Stir in the radicchio and continue stirring until it wilts and changes color. Pour in the wine and cook, stirring until it evaporates; season with black pepper. Now add a ladleful of hot stock and keep stirring the simmering rice constantly until  the liquid is almost completely absorbed. Continue adding the stock, one ladleful at a time, when the previous liquid is almost completely absorbed.

After 20 to 25 minutes, the pumpkin should be cooked and the rice should be creamy and cooked but still slightly al dente. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let sit for 2 minutes. Check the seasoning, stir in the remaining half of the butter, and serve in warm bowls. Grate Parmesan over the top.

From Bitter by Jennifer McLagan. Order your copy here.

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