Chicken, Pumpkin and Pesto Risotto

My friend came over on Tuesday night and we were determined to make a risotto. The night before we had enjoyed a tasty risotto at a restaurant, and were motivated to try a recipe for ourselves!

If anyone knows me, they know if a dish combines pumpkin AND pesto, then I’m sold. Pumpkin has to be one of my favorite ingredients, and when combined with pesto, chicken and spinach leaves in a rice based dish –  where can you go wrong *drools*!


We all enjoyed the dish,with everyone going back for seconds – I guess I’m not the only one with a pumpkin/pesto addiction!

The pesto is homemade and takes two seconds, I would definitely suggest making your own as many of the pre-made ones contains preservatives and is probably lurking with possible allergens!

I would also suggest perhaps roasting the pumpkin instead of just cooking it, though I have yet to try this. Next time though as I know I will be making this again 😉

Chicken, Pumpkin and Pesto Risotto

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1kg butternut pumpkin, peeled, cut into 2cm cubes
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 large chicken breast fillets, trimmed
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/3 to 1/2  cup basil pesto (depending on taste – recipe is below)
  • 100 grams baby spinach leaves
  • 50 grams pine nuts, roasted
  • Parmesan cheese for serving


  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add pumpkin. Cook, tossing, for 5 minutes, or until golden. Add water. Cook for a further 5 to 8 minutes, or until just tender. Drain. Transfer to a plate and keep warm.
  2. Heat remaining oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook for 3 minutes, or until onion is soft. Stir in rice. Cook for 1 minute. Add stock and pumpkin. Bring to the boil. Cover with a tight-fitting lid. Reduce heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Meanwhile, Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in the frying pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken. Cook for 5 minutes each side, or until just cooked through. Remove to a plate and cover to keep warm.
  4. Thinly slice chicken and stir into the rice mixture (which has been cooking for 20 minutes). Cover. Cook for a further 5 minutes. Season with pepper, stir in basil pesto, spinach leaves and pine nuts. Serve among plates and top with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese!

Basil Pesto Recipe:

This recipe will yield more than needed for the recipe, use extras as a dip, on a sandwich or freeze the remainders for future use in another recipe.
To freeze (for up to 4 months): Transfer half the pesto to a small airtight container and smooth the surface. Drizzle with olive oil to cover. Label, date and freeze. To thaw: Place in the fridge for 3-4 hours or until thawed. Stir to combine.
  • 45g (1/4 cup) pine nuts, roasted1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 2 small garlic cloves, halved
  • 60g (3/4 cup) shredded parmesan
  • 5 tbs olive oil

  1. Place the pine nuts, basil, garlic and parmesan in the bowl of a food processor and process until finely chopped. With the motor running, gradually add the oil in a thin steady stream until well combined.

2 thoughts on “Chicken, Pumpkin and Pesto Risotto

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