Alessandro Cozzolino’s Bell Pepper Risotto

Alessandro Cozzolino, Executive Chef at Villa San Michele, A Belmond Hotel, Florence, looked back to childhood memories for this recipe. He took inspiration from his mother’s stuffed charcoal bell peppers dish, adding cacio mugellano cheese and Casentino sausage for a Florence recipe with authentic, elevated flair.



Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 150g / 5 ⅓ oz carnaroli rice (Chef Alessandro recommends Riserva San Massimo)
  • 4 organic red bell peppers
  • 80g / 2 ⅘ oz Casentino sausage, or high-quality Italian sausage
  • 20g / 1 ½ tbsp fennel seeds
  • Cacio mugellano cheese
  • A knob of butter
  • A drizzle of olive oil
  • 500ml / 2 cups water
  • 500ml / 2 cups vegetable broth


  • Grill the bell peppers until they are very nearly burnt. Remove the charred skin and seeds, and blend the flesh with a drizzle of olive oil to create a coulis.
  • Take half the sausage meat and roll it into several small balls. Fry them in a pan.
  • Roast the other half of the sausage until cooked, but still juicy. Then, crumble it into small pieces — this will be added when stirring the risotto.
  • Prepare a fennel powder by grinding the fennel seeds.
  • Toast the rice in a dry pan. Slowly add the water and let it cook for around 12 minutes.
  • When the rice is half cooked, slowly add the vegetable broth and cook for a further 12 minutes.
  • Add the roasted sausage balls, the knob of butter and the charcoal bell pepper coulis.
  • Finally, stir in some finely grated cheese and fennel powder to taste, followed by the remaining sausage.

Buon appetito!

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