I ate this risotto in a restaurant in the North of Italy and I have tried to reproduce it. I am now “pretty close” or at least I like the variation I make. Their Squash Risotto only had puréed roasted squash and I have changed my version adding pieces of roasted squash and pistacchios for some crunch and I eat it as a main dish. They served it with grilled scallops and it was a brilliant combination. —Maria Teresa Jorge
Pre-heat the oven to 325ºF with rack in the middle.
For the squash: Peal and clean the squash and cut in small cubes. Put in a bowl, wash and drain, add the olive oil, some salt and freshly grated white pepper, the fresh rosemary and fresh thyme. Put in aluminium foil and close the aluminium over the squash and bake in the oven for about 45 to 50 minutes or until cooked.
Take1/2 of the squash out, remove all the herbs and blend with 1/4 cup vegetable stock from the 5 cups for the risotto to get a very smooth purée. Season well with salt and freshly grated Sechuan pepper to give it a lemony taste.
Put up the temperature of the oven to 350ºF. The remainder squash, remove the top part of the aluminium foil and leave in the oven to brown for another 20 minutes.
Peel and chop very finely the onion.
Put the vegetable broth in a pan and keep it over low heat so it is always hot.
In a pan melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat, add the onion and allow to cook for 5 minutes until translucent. Add the rice and fry until well coated in oil and lightly translucent. Add the white wine and let the alcohol evaporate completely.
Add enough broth to just cover the rice, lower the heat to medium-low and allow to cook uncovered until it’s almost dry. Add another ladle of broth and stir. Allow to simmer gently until it’s almost dry again. Keep repeating the process, adding less and less stock every time you add it to the risotto.
After 15 minutes, remove from the heat, add 1/2 cup of roasted squash purée, the Parmesan, the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, stir vigorously with a wooden spoon. Check the seasoning.
Add the pieces of roast squash, stiring gently so they don't break up, cover and let rest for 2 minutes before serving.