Market to Table- Certaldo Francesca’s Pumpkin Risotto

At Saturday’s market in Certaldo, the local farmer Francesca is a wealth of knowledge and gave me a recipe for Pumpkin Leek Risotto.


She only sells what she grows, and I trust a woman with a smile!



Risotto di Zucca Gialla

2 young leeks
extra virgin olive oil
chili pepper flakes
1 lb pumpkin
1 c Risotto rice,arborio, canaroli or vialone nano
( I use Pila Vecia from Gabriele Ferron in Isola della Scala)

1 cup water
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese.


Clean the leeks and finely slice.
Place in pot with extra virgin olive oil, enough to cover the bottom of the pot.

Cut the pumpkin into small cubes and let cook with the leek.
Salt to taste and sprinkle with chili flakes.

When the leeks are caramelized and the pumpkin tender, about 10 minutes, add the rice.
Stir to mix well and “toast” the rice.
It should be covered in oil and hot.( Each grain shiny, not swimmin in oil)

Add 2 cups boiling water. Salt to taste. ( I use water instead of boulloin cubes or making broth and let the flavors of the risotto speak! There is enough flavor with veggies, great olive oil and wonderful sea salt)

Cover and let cook for 14 minutes.
Uncover and stir.

The rice should be cooked and the liquid absorbed.

Now add  additional boiling water and the grated parmesan cheese.
Stir until the liquid is absorbed and the risotto is “all’onda”, wave-like.

In Itakian, this is called “mantecare”. This brings out the wonderful creaminess from the starch of the rice and creates the perfect creaminess, without adding cream.
Stirring releases the starch in the rice and binds with the liquid and cheese to create the PERFECT NON-STIR RISOTTO!

I learned this non-stir technique from Gabriele Ferron, who grows rice in Isola della Scala. There are two schools of thought about stirring or not stirring. In Milano, stirring is an art and risotto is made to order.

If you have left-over risotto, make risotto al salto. Left-over risotto is sauteed in a skillet until crispy then flipped , saltare is to jump, and crisped on the other side.



  1. says

    Are young leeks smaller or do they just have less dark green to them?

    Can you use the whole leek or do you still have to discard the dark green parts?

  2. says

    I only use the white part of the leeks, if the leeks are older and there is a hard center, discard that too!

    Spring onions would work too.

  3. Cheri says

    Hi, this sounds wonderful, I would like to know if I could use butternut squash instead of pumpkin, not available here yet?

    Thank you, looking forward to trying some of your recipes, this being number one!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *