Lemon Saffron Risotto with Roast Pumpkin recipe

I have had a pathological fear of making risotto since I very first learnt how to cook. I think its because of the horror stories I’ve heard of hours of standing and stirring only to produce a bowl of glue, or worse – uncooked crunchy grain that is stuck to the bottom of the pan.

That said, I am quite proud of myself for just giving it a go recently with a simple recipe (well, actually I took pieces from several recipes and combined them all into my own recipe) as well as endlessly watching (and re-watching) YouTube video guides.

I was pleasantly surprised at the result, which was a delicious risotto that was *suspiciously* easy to make. Afterwards I was left wondering what the big deal was all about! And so I share it with you in the hope that you will also be able to conquer your risotto fears! Even better, the combination of lemon, saffron and pumpkin is delicious. The texture of the risotto is soft and creamy – second (and even third) servings are almost irresistible.

The recipe below is for a Vegan Lemon Saffron Risotto with Roast Pumpkin and pine nuts – a deliciously herbal and creamy, savoury meal. But I think this would also be great with some prawns or squid and you can use chicken stock instead of vegetable stock, as well as butter instead of olive oil where indicated.

risotto in bowl
Lemon saffron risotto with pumpkin and pine nuts


  • 5-6 cups of vegetable stock (you could also use chicken stock)
  • 1 cup good dry white wine
  • 2 cups dry uncooked risotto rice (I used Arborio)
  • 1 pinch fresh saffron
  • 1 half butternut pumpkin, diced into 1cm cubes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (or butter)
  • 1 small white onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lemon, juiced (about 2 tablespoons of juice) & zested
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • Half cup grated Parmesan cheese to serve
  • Quarter cup pine nuts
  • Bunch of fresh parsley, chopped – *Optional 


  1. Pre-heat your fan-forced oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line your cubed pumpkin on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper.
  2. Cook pumpkin in oven for around 40 minutes until soft and tender. Remove to cook and place to side for later.
  3. Combine stock and saffron in a pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn off the heat and place a lid on top to keep warm. Keep the warm stock to hand for risotto. The stock needs to be kept hot for when its added to the rice.
  4. Straight away, in a large non-stick frying pan, cook the onion in the olive oil (or butter) for 2 – 3 minutes until aromatic and slightly coloured. Add in garlic, stir then pour in the uncooked Arborio rice and coat through the onions to slick the rice until shiny. Stir the rice for only 30 seconds.
  5. Add the white wine and lemon zest to the rice and stir for another 30 seconds to cook off the alcohol. At this stage, your kitchen should be smelling like an Italian seaside vacation dream.
  6. On a medium-high heat (never letting the rice or stock boil), add one soup ladle of hot stock to the rice and stir continuously (but calmly) until the rice has absorbed all the stock.
  7. Then, add a second soup ladle of stock, stir until absorbed and add a third. Stir constantly but peacefully while maintaining medium heat.
  8. You will need to add 3 – 4 ladles of stock and allow each of them to be absorbed before you can ease off your stirring. Continue adding the stock ladle-by-ladle until the rice has absorbed as much as it can and you have achieved the desired texture. The simplest way to know when this has been achieved is to simply taste. The rice should be tender and there should not be too much excess or pooling liquid. The process should take around 20 minutes all together.
  9. A good rule of thumb to learn is that 1 cup of uncooked rice needs about 3 – 4 cups of stock to cook (although, this does differ greatly depending on the type of rice etc.)
  10. Once the rice is cooked and tender, add the pumpkin and stir through, along with the lemon juice. Add a handful of pine nuts and stir together just to combine.
  11. Season with salt and pepper and serve straight away, warm with Parmesan cheese.
  12. You could also sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley or some warm crunchy bread – *Optional. 


risotto in pan

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