Risotto is one of those foods that demands a long, leisurely approach. It is a labor of love and shouldn’t be rushed. Butternut squash risotto is version of this dish that I come back to again and again. This fall vegetable, featured in my butternut squash arugula salad is one of our favorites.
Roasting the squash brings out it’s natural sweetness, making it even more delicious.
The whole key to risotto is the slow process allowing the creaminess of the rice to come out and that can only be achieved by taking your time. The frequent stirring and actively watching the pot can be a welcome change of pace from the frenzied dinner preparation most of us normally experience.
This is comfort food on every conceivable level. On days when you need a bit of a mental break, I wholeheartedly recommend making risotto. A bit of stirring while you lovingly watch the pot of rice in front of you transform into something creamy and ethereal may be just what you need.
Some people may feel intimidated by making risotto. Don’t be – it really isn’t more than pouring in a bit of stock and stirring for the better part of the cooking.
Butternut Squash Risotto
Risotto feels like such a fancy dish, something that you would only order at your favorite Italian restaurant. It is incredibly easy to make and it is, for me, the epitome of cool weather comfort food. On a blustery winter afternoon when the wind is blowing outside and the last thing you want to do is brave the cold, this is the kind of food that is worth standing in front of the stove for.
Before I moved to Florida, I spent many a blustery afternoon making risotto. Temperatures in NYC can be downright frigid and I am not a fan of icy temps.
When trying to figure out what I was going to make for dinner, I often opted for dishes that I could put together without leaving the house. This was how I came up with quite a few of my recipes – laziness and not wanting to brave the snow.
If you’ve been here awhile, you know this about me. I cook during storms. I made Black and Blueberry Jam during a hurricane. It gives me something to do other than being glued to the weather report.
Risotto with Roasted Butternut Squash
Butternut squash risotto can be served as the main dish, not just relegated to side dish status. It is hearty enough to stand on its own. Loaded with cubes of roasted butternut squash, this risotto is perfect for a weeknight dinner or a weekend dinner with friends.
It takes about 30 minutes for the rice to absorb the wine and stock, but the majority of that time is simply stirring. If you are making this during the week, buy precut butternut squash for convenience. It will save you a few minutes of peeling and chopping.
Before we get started, a word about the wine – when you cook with wine, it doesn’t need to be expensive, but it does need to be something you would drink. If you don’t like the wine on its own, you won’t like it in the food.
How to make risotto
As always, having everything ready to go (or your mis-en-place) will make things go more smoothly, so measure your ingredients before you start the rice.
The first step in making risotto is sauteing shallots in butter. Then you add the unrinsed rice to the pot and give it a stir.
Next, the wine goes into the pot. The aroma of white wine, shallots and butter will make your mouth water! Then, it is adding stock and stirring for a bit.
One piece of equipment that I recommend is a heavy-bottomed pot, like a Dutch oven. I have a Le Creuset Dutch oven that I adore. It is not an inexpensive pot, but it is a piece of equipment, (like a cast iron skillet) that when cared for, will last forever. These pots get handed down from one generation to the next and they are worth every penny.
What to serve with Butternut Squash Risotto:
Because risotto is a filling meal, I serve lighter drinks or dessert with it.
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What do I need to make butternut risotto?
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- 6 cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced small (1/4 inch pieces) - from 1 medium squash
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 6 cups chicken stock
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 large shallots, minced
- 10 ounces Arborio rice (1 1/2 cups)
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp fresh sage, finely chopped (plus more for garnish, if desired)
Fried Sage Leaves
- whole sage leaves
- neutral oil - enough to cover the bottom of your pan
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss the diced butternut squash with the olive oil, 1 tsp kosher salt and a few turns of the pepper mill.
- Lay the butternut squash out on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper in a single layer and roast in the oven for about 20 - 25 minutes until very tender and slightly caramelized.
- While the squash is roasting, heat the chicken stock in a saucepan. Leave it on low heat, it needs to stay warm as you add it to the rice.
- In a heavy-bottomed pot, melt the butter and saute the shallots on low - medium heat for about 10 minutes until the shallots are translucent. Add the sage and let it perfume the butter. Add the rice and stir to slick the grains of rice with the butter.
- Add the wine and cook for 2 -3 minutes, then add 2 ladles of simmering stock to the pot. Season again with a little salt & pepper. We're building flavor here, so we need to season as we go...
- Give it a good stir, let it simmer and keep stirring until stock is absorbed, about 5 - 10 minutes.
- Check on the squash - rotate your sheet pan if necessary, remove from oven when done and set aside.
- When stock has been absorbed, add in 2 more ladles and stir frequently until the stock is absorbed and rice is cooked through, but still al dente. (rice will take about 30 minutes TOTAL).
- Remove from heat, add Parmesan cheese and 3/4 of the roasted squash. Stir to combine, place remaining cubes of squash on top and serve.
- Garnish with fried sage leaves and extra cubed butternut, if desired.
To make fried sage leaves:
1. Add enough oil to a small sauté pan to completely cover the bottom of the pan.
2. Heat oil over medium - high heat. Add sage leaves and fry for 15 seconds.
3. Carefully turn leaves over and fry an additional 10 seconds. Remove and drain on paper towels.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 464Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 42mgSodium: 1819mgCarbohydrates: 50gFiber: 8gSugar: 10gProtein: 15g