Gio’s Cucina

“Welcome to Gio’s Cucina!”

-Chef John Ruggeri




Gio’s Cucina is your source for mouth watering recipes straight from Head Chef John Ruggeri’s Secret Recipe Book. Check back each month for a new dish!


Risotto con Zucca e Scarola

Squash and Escarole Risotto



  • 1 small (about 1 1/2 lbs) butternut squash
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Course sea salt
  • 3 1/2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 head escarole, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups carnaroli rice
  • 3 cups hot vegetable broth


Halve squash lengthwise and discard seeds. Wrap and refrigerate one half for future use. Peel remaining half. Cut two-thirds of the squash into 1/4 inch dice. Using a vegetable peeler, peel remaining third into strips. 

Place onion, bay leaf and 1 tablespoon water in a medium saucepan, and bring to a simmer. Cook until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add diced squash, 1 cup water, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; return to a simmer, cover, and cook until squash is tender and stewed, about 20 minutes. Discard bay leaf.

Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat. Add peeled squash and half of the escarole. Cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are tender, about 7 minutes. Remove from heat and season with salt.

In another medium saucepan, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat. Add rice and cook, stirring, until rice is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the stewed squash, remaining escarole, and 1 cupful of broth. Simmer, stirring frequently, until broth is almost absorbed. Continue adding broth in 1/2 cupfuls, stirring often and allowing each addition to mostly evaporate before adding next, until rice is tender, but still slightly firm to the bite, and mixture is creamy. Remove from heat and season with salt to taste. Serve topped with sautéed squash and escarole, and drizzled with remaining tablespoon oil.

* Serves 4