I love risotto. Shocking, right? I guess it’s normal that a person like me – a foodie at heart – is practically obsessed with every food dish out there. You’ve heard it here before; I love… macaroni and cheese, hollandaise sauce, goat cheese, bacon – all are my favorite things of course – and today’s favorite, risotto.

Usually, I have a distinct memory of the first time I realized this new found love, but as I sit here on my couch typing these words out and willing my brain to remember the first time I fell in love with risotto, my mind is absolutely, positively blank. I have no idea how old I was, or what it tasted like, but I do know, that at some point in my life, I tasted risotto, fell in love, and never looked back.

Tonight, I needed a cheap meal to pull together since we went a little crazy on our credit card this weekend. When I looked in my pantry, my eyes were immediately drawn to the half empty box of Arborio rice, tucked away in the back. With chicken stock, wine, and cheese also on hand, I knew that risotto was my cheap poison of choice. All I needed was a little something to take it up a notch, so after a quick run through the store, I snatched up some butternut squash that was on sale and viola dinner was engineered.

The base of this is a classic risotto but is tweaked just a bit with the addition of butternut squash.  Arborio rice is sautéed with a little onion and garlic then deglazed with some dry white wine. Throw in the butternut squash and then slowly start to incorporate the chicken broth until the rice has absorbed it all.

The butternut squash adds just hint of sweetness to this classically savory dish, and you would be shocked to know that there isn’t a drop of cream added. By slowly incorporating the broth and stirring almost constantly, the rice slowly starts to release its starches and what results is a creamy, delicious risotto.  Finish off with a little bit of butter and cheese, and what you have folks, is heaven on a plate.

First, sauté onion and garlic in a little olive oil over a medium heat until softened, about two minutes. Add 1/4 teaspoon of salt.

Stir in rice, coat in oil and cook for another two minutes.

Add wine.  Simmer until reduced, about two minutes.

Add squash and 1/4 teaspoon of salt, cook one minute.

At this point we want to start to add the liquid.  Start by adding the water.  Stir constantly and when most of the liquid is absorbed, start to add the chicken broth, one ladle at a time – stirring constantly after each addition. Add the last 1/4 teaspoon of salt.

Starting to absorb the broth…

Getting closer…..

Not quite right yet….


Now, some finishing touches – three tablespoons of butter and ¾ cup parmesan cheese. If the risotto becomes too thick after addition of the cheese, add one more small ladle of chicken broth.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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Butternut Squash Risotto
Serves: 4
  • ½ small onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 ½ cups Arborio rice
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups butternut squash, cut into ½ inch cubes
  • 1 cup water (HOT)
  • 32 ounces low-sodium chicken broth (HOT)
  • ¾ teaspoon salt, divided
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • ¾ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese
  • Salt and pepper to season
  1. Sauté onion, garlic, and olive oil in a large Dutch oven over a medium heat until soft and translucent. Season with ¼ teaspoon salt.
  2. Add rice and cook for two minutes.
  3. Add wine. Simmer until reduced by half, about one to two minutes.
  4. Add squash and ¼ teaspoon salt, cook another minute.
  5. Heat water and broth in a separate sauce pan, keep liquid at a simmer while cooking risotto.
  6. Reduce heat to medium low. Add water, stirring almost constantly. When the liquid has almost evaporated start to add chicken broth one large ladle at a time, stirring almost constantly. Add remaining salt. Again, when most of the liquid has evaporated add the next ladle, stirring constantly. Keep adding liquid one ladle at a time until there is only one ladle left and rice is cooked through but still has a slight bite to it.
  7. Turn heat off, add last ladel of broth. Add butter and cheese. Mix until combined.
  8. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If the risotto becomes too thick with the addition of the cheese, add a small ladle of water.

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