Squash and Shrimp Risotto

Jimmy Bannos, Jr.

The Purple Pig, Chicago

JBF Award winner Jimmy Bannos Jr., who learned to make risotto under the watchful eye of pasta paragon Lidia Bastianich, promises that this seemingly intimidating entree is actually "a really, really simple dish that just takes some time and a little bit of love to prepare." This surf-and turf-iteration uses a base of rendered pancetta to make the shrimp and squash pop and help the dish cohere into a delicious ode to fall.


6 servings


  • 4 cups vegetable stock 
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil 
  • 3 ounces pancetta
  • 1/2 onion, diced  
  • 1 cup arborio rice 
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup diced and blanched squash 
  • 1 1/2 pounds cleaned shrimp   
  • 1/2 cup squash purée 
  • 1 tablespoon mascarpone cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
  • Sage for garnish 
  • Pepitas for garnish
  • Pumpkin seed oil for garnish 


In a medium saucepan, bring the stock to a simmer. Reserve over low heat and keep warm.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan set over medium-low heat. Add the pancetta and stir occasionally until the fat has rendered and the pancetta is crispy. Remove the pancetta from the pan and add the onions. Sweat the onions, stirring occasionally, until they’re soft, about 5 minutes. Add the rice, stirring constantly, and cook until it’s toasted, about 1 minute. 

Add the white wine and cook, stirring constantly, until it has cooked down and nearly absorbed. Working with 1 ladleful of stock at a time, add the warm stock to cover the rice. Stir constantly, making sure the rice does not stick. Continue adding the stock 1 ladle at a time, stirring constantly, until it’s nearly absorbed between additions. Cook until the rice is al dente, about 12 to 15 minutes. 

Once the rice is cooked, stir in the diced squash and shrimp. Cook until the shrimp are just cooked through. Add the cooked pancetta, squash purée, and mascarpone. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with pumpkin seed oil, fried sage leaves, and pepitas. Serve immediately.