Squash Risotto with Anise & Cardamom

Ingredients for 4 people:

  • 2 liters of water

  • ¼ medium white onion

  • 1 carrot

  • 2 celery stalks

  • ½ of a star anise

  • 2 cardamom pods

  • 300 grams of kabocha squash

  • 360 grams of arborio rice

  • 1 glass of white wine

  • 70 grams of butter

  • 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

  • 5 tablespoons of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Risotto is a typical Italian dish, especially in Northern Italy, originally from Lombardy. It is eaten all year and lends itself well to different seasonal produce. In the fall, what could be better than risotto prepared with squash, and made more special with a vegetable broth flavored with star anise and cardamom? The squash’s warm and brilliant orange color makes this first course dish not only healthy for the body but also for the mind (which also is nourished by colors).

Preparing the risotto will take about 45 mins.

Utensils you will need:

  • 1 pot for ~2 liters of broth (or a little more)

  • 1 pan with edges high enough for the risotto

  • 1 pan to toast the rice

  • 1 ladle

  • 1 wooden spoon for stirring


Begin by preparing the vegetable broth. In a pot, put 2 liters of water, 1 carrot (cut in two pieces), 2 celery stalks (also cut in two pieces), half a star of anise and 2 pods of cardamom. Bring to a boil for at least 30 minutes at medium heat, and add enough salt that the broth tastes salty enough for you.

While the broth is cooking, cut the squash into cubes. You will need 300 grams of squash cubes and finely chop a quarter of a medium-sized white onion. Put the squash and the onion in a pan with high sides, and brown in 50 grams of butter and 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Cover with lid, and let the squash soften on the stove over low heat.

In the meantime, in another pan (without anything in it), toast 360 grams of arborio rice while continually stirring. When the rice is hot to the touch, it is sufficiently toasted. At this point, put the rice in the pan with the squash and the onion, stirring to combine all the ingredients and adding 1 glass of white wine. Continue to stir until the wine evaporates.

Taking care to only add liquid (not spices or vegetables), add a ladle or two of broth while continuing to stir. As the broth is absorbed, add more. It will take about 15-20 minutes of cooking to have the rice cooked al dente. While cooking, check to see if there is enough salt or if more is needed. When the rice seems ready, do not add more broth and turn off the stove. Add the rest of the butter and 5 tablespoons of Parmigiano Reggiano. Stir in the butter and cheese, then let rest without mixing for 2 minutes before serving.

Buon appetito and Happy Fall!