Butternut Squash Risotto

Risotto one of my favorite dishes to make. I think of risotto as a blank palette that you can create with each new season. I love fall flavors in a risotto dish. Its great to have as a vegetarian option for holiday dinners, its perfect as an entree or side dish. Left overs can be used to create risotto burgers, cakes, arancini nothing goes to waste.

I am going to give you a little bit of information first, then the recipe will follow.

Risotto is an Italian preparation of rice, and not just any rice, you will need to get either arborio or carnaroli rice. It is a little different cooking method then most rice dishes, where you normally measure a liquid bring it to a boil, add the rice then place a lid on the pan and set your timer. The risotto method you will be sauteing some aromatics, then add the rice, deglaze with a little wine and you will add warmed broth ladles at a time to cook the rice.

BROTH – Any type of broth can be used, vegetable, chicken, beef. Trying bumping up your broth adding fresh herbs, bayleaf, peppercorns, parmesan rind. All these ingredients will give your broth more flavor and the risotto more flavor. Deglazing the pan with a wine will enhance the flavor as well. White wine, sparkling, rose’, red wines. I have even used a hard cider which is really good.

AROMATICS – these are items you will saute before adding the rice. Garlic, shallots, onions (different varieties) bell peppers

CHEESE – try playing with a variety of cheeses to stir into the risotto or garnish with. Parmesan is the standard, but with a butternut squash risotto try adding truffle cheese and a swirl of truffle oil. A gorgonzola cheese with a drizzle of really good balsamic for garnish. Asiago, mascarpone, pecorino, buratta there are so many cheeses to play with.

NUTS & SEEDS – with butternut squash being your main flavor profile, then choose a cheese add something for crunch. Pepita seeds, toasted almonds, candied pecans, chopped cashews really nuts and seeds that you enjoy and have in your pantry.

SERVING – risotto is great served as an entree in a pasta bowl, or as a side dish to a protein. For the holidays if you would like a nicer presentation you can serve risotto in a acorn squash or different size pumpkins. Wether a smaller squash for individual serving, or larger squash to set on a dinner or buffet table. With the squash, you want to clean them out, I season them with olive oil, salt & pepper and roast them a bit first. Do not over cook, they will lose their structure and become difficult to serve in.

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Butternut Squash Risotto

Butternut squash risotto is such a great fall and holiday dish.



3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons minced garlic

2 tablespoons minced shallots

1 tablespoon minced fresh sage leaves

1 small butternut squash peeled and cut in 1/2 inch cubes

2 cups arborio or carnaroli rice

3/4 cup dry white wine or hard cider

67 cups vegetable or chicken broth

salt & pepper for seasoning

2 cups greens – spinach, arugula or kale cleaned and roughly chopped

2 tablespoons butter or great EVOO

1 cup fresh grated parmesan (no pre grated parmesan!!)

3 tablespoons butter

1 dozen large sage leaves

nuts or seeds optional


In a large pan warm the broth. It does not need to be boiling. For added flavor add a parmesan rind, fresh herbs you might have, peppercorns, bay leaves.

In a heavy 4 quart pot, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic, shallots, minced sage and butternut squash. Cook for three to four minutes stirring often. If veggies seem dry give another swirl of olive oil.  Next add the rice, you will probable need another swirl of oil.  Cook the rice 2 -3 minutes until the edges become translucent.

Pour in the wine or hard cider and stir until the liquid has evaporated. Start adding one or two ladles of warm broth. Stirring the rice until the liquid is absorbed. Repeat by adding 1 – 2 ladles of warm broth and stir until the liquid is evaporated. This process will take at least 20 – 30 minutes. Have a tasting spoon close by so that you can taste as you cook. Risotto should be al dente just like pasta.

Once the risotto is cooked to your liking, add the parmesan cheese, greens and butter (or EVOO) and stir to incorporate. Taste and season with salt & pepper.

Sage leaves: while the risotto is cooking in a small saute pan heat the butter over medium heat. Cook the sage leaves until the leaves turn shiny and darker in color and crispy. Drain on a paper towel. You can drizzle the left over brown butter over the risotto.


Garnish Ideas:

Wedge of burrata cheese on top of a serving drizzled with nice EVOO or Truffle oil

Wedge of a nice gorgonzola cheese and drizzle of really nice balsamic

Wedge of Brie cheese drizzle of pomegranate molasses and pomegranate arils

LEFTOVERS – if you have any leftovers, store in the refrigerator. For breakfast shape the chilled leftover risotto into a cake and fry. Garnish with an over easy egg and wilted greens, fresh parm. You wont be sorry 🙂

  • Author: Chef Shelly