Skip the pasta and rice this week and go for Butternut Squash Risotto instead. Made with the creaminess of mac and cheese but the taste of a five star gourmet meal, this dish is delicious, easy to make, and extra satisfying.
It’s creamy like mac and cheese, but healthier than pasta. It’s filling and satisfying, but provides protein and carbs. It’s… risotto! And if you’re lucky, it’s not just any risotto, it’s butternut squash risotto.
This dish is truly a treat. It’s made with rich ingredients like onion, garlic, parmesan, and butter, as is evident with each and every ooey gooey, satisfying bite. And the best part is that though it totally provides a gourmet Italian restaurant vibe, this dish is very easy to perfect right at home!
So this week for Pasta Friday (can that be a thing like Taco Tuesday?), indulge in a creamy risotto that’ll have the entire family devouring every last bite.
Here’s what you’ll need
This butternut squash recipe is one of those that looks like it would be a complicated mess to create, but in all actuality is a very simple recipe that uses only 9 straightforward ingredients. I love to load mine up with onion and garlic, so feel free to do the same if it fits your preference! And don’t forget to top it off with parmesan and butter to achieve that signature creaminess.
- Olive Oil: As always, we’ll be using olive oil to sauté and prepare the veggies.
- Butternut Squash: The star ingredient of this recipe, we’ll be using 3 cups of butternut squash. That will equal about ½ of a medium squash. Be sure to dice it into small pieces for quicker cooking.
- Garlic and Onions: These two powerful ingredients will make up the flavorful base of our risotto! We will cook briefly until softened, and then add in the risotto.
- Arborio Rice: We’re sticking with Arborio rice, a medium-grain rice with a lot of amylopectin starch, making it creamy when cooked!
- Wine and Broth: Add a splash of wine (optional), and then slowly add the broth in batches. Stir after each addition until the broth is totally absorbed into the risotto.
- Cheese and Butter: Once the risotto is tender and ready to eat, add a healthy handful of shredded parmesan and a slab of butter. Stir to melt and serve!
How to make butternut squash risotto
Creating homemade butternut squash risotto is cake (which you should totally have on hand for dessert). Start by preparing the veggies, and then toast up the rice. After that we add the liquids and stir in the parmesan and butter, and ta-da! A creamy, dreamy, savory risotto is ready to enjoy.
Step 1: Prepare the veggies
In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the butternut squash, onion, and garlic, and stir to evenly coat in the oil. Cover the dish with a lid and cook until the squash is slightly soft. It should take 10 to 15 minutes. Roughly mash the butternut so that about half is mashed.
Step 2: Toast the rice
Next, transfer the butternut mixture out of the pan. Add dry rice to the pan and cook it for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until the rice is slightly opaque on the outside but uncooked on the inside.
Step 3: Add the wine
Add the wine to the pan of rice and let it simmer until it’s fully absorbed. Then, stir in the butternut mixture.
Step 4: Add the broth
Next, slowly add the vegetable broth to the pan, adding ½ cup at a time. Wait until the broth has almost completely absorbed before adding another ½ cup. Begin tasting the rice after 15 minutes or so. Once it’s al dente (a little bit chewy), stop adding broth. You may not need the full amount.
Step 5: Throw in the flavorings
Finally, stir in the parmesan and butter. Taste and add salt and pepper to your liking. Optionally, add fried sage leaves*. Serve immediately for optimal tastiness.
*Fried sage leaves completely level up this risotto! To make them, heat a thin layer of oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Carefully drop fresh sage leaves into the oil. They should immediately sizzle (if they don’t, increase the heat). Cook each leaf for about 10 seconds per side, or until slightly golden and crispy.
Variation options to try out
After you’ve tried your hand at this dish a few times and want to mix things up, there are a few options you can choose from! Both are very easy to implement too.
Butternut squash: Swap out the signature ingredient and use pumpkin or sweet potato instead! Either option is going to give you that same thick, savory result.
Make it herby: Add extra flavor by including chopped rosemary or thyme! They add so much good flavor to the dish and make it a totally different experience.
And because you can never have enough risotto…
Try your hand at these risotto renditions too! Like this recipe, many of the ingredients are easy to come by and quick to whip up. It’s worth trying each one!
- 1 Tbsp olive oil 15 mL
- 3 cups diced butternut squash about ½ of a medium squash
- ¼ cup finely diced white or yellow onion about ¼ of an onion
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 ½ cups Arborio rice 300 g
- ¼ cup white wine 60 mL
- 4 cups vegetable broth 944 mL
- ½ cup grated parmesan 30 g
- 2 Tbsp butter 28 g
- Veggies: In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add butternut, onion, and garlic, stirring to evenly coat in oil. Cover with a lid and cook until the butternut is slightly soft, about 10 to 15 minutes. Roughly mash so that about half of the squash is smashed. Transfer butternut mixture out of the pan.
- Toast Rice: Add dry rice and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until the rice is slightly opaque on the outside but uncooked on the inside.
- Wine: Add wine to the pan of rice and simmer until absorbed. Stir in the cooked butternut mixture.
- Broth: Slowly add the vegetable broth to the pan, adding ½ cup at a time. Wait until broth has almost completely absorbed before adding another ½ cup. Begin tasting the rice after 15 minutes or so. Once it is al dente (a little bit chewy), stop adding broth (you may not need the full amount).
- Flavor: Stir in parmesan and butter. Taste and add salt and pepper to suit your liking. Optionally add fried sage leaves*. Serve immediately for optimal tastiness.
Tips & Tricks
- *Fried sage leaves level up this risotto! To make them, heat a thin layer of oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Carefully drop fresh sage leaves into the oil. They should immediately sizzle (if not, increase the heat). Cook each leaf about 10 seconds per side, or until slightly golden and crispy.
- Variations on this risotto are easy. You can swap out the butternut squash for pumpkin or sweet potato. Or make it herby by cooking the squash with chopped rosemary or thyme.