We tend to only make risotto for special occasions. It’s definitely not one of our simple, easy weeknight dinner recipes. We often make this for Valentine’s Day, since it’s a delicious, hearty winter meal. Just know that if you’re planning on making this one, you should set aside a couple hours. You can’t rush risotto.
We have a few risotto recipes that we cook throughout the year. We make a parmesan risotto with asparagus in the spring and an incredible lemon artichoke risotto that’s light and perfect for summertime – it’s my favorite! This one, however, is perfect for winter. It has lots of winter flavors and the squash makes it more filling than others.
When growing butternut squash, you want to give them a lot of space. Ideally, you want to keep plants pruned about five feet around. Remember this when planting seedlings in your garden.
Butternut squash is a winter squash. You should harvest it before the first frost. You’ll know it’s ready when the skin is hard and has turned a deep, solid tan color. You can also tap on it. When it sounds hollow, it’s ready. The nicest thing about butternut squash is that once it’s harvested, it can be stored for 1-2 months.
For this recipe, you’ll need one medium to large butternut squash. To start, preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
Chop off the top and bottom of the squash and peel completely.
Cut the squash where the long part meets the round part, then cut the round part in half. Remove all of the seeds and pulp.
Chop the butternut squash into 1/4 inch cubes.
Add squash cubes to a mixing bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Stir until all squash is coated in the oil and spread out on a baking sheet.
Roast the butternut squash for 45 minutes total, turning once at 15 minutes and again at 30 minutes.
Once the squash is in the oven, you can start preparing the risotto. Heat up 7 cups of vegetable broth in a saucepan. Keep it warm on a back burner.
Add two tablespoons of olive oil and butter to a saute pan. Place over medium heat.
Chop two medium to large (or three small) shallots. Shallots have such a lovely, delicate flavor that works really well in risotto recipes. The flavor won’t take over the dish like other onions might.
Once the butter is melted, add the shallots to the pan. Cook until wilted, but not browned, stirring often. If the shallots start browning, turn the heat down a little. Add two cloves of crushed garlic, season with salt and pepper, and stir.
Add two cups of Arborio rice to the pan. Stir until all of the rice is coated in the oil/butter. Cook on medium for a few minutes, stirring often.
Add 2/3 cup of dry white wine to the pan. (We used Pinot Grigio, but Savignon Blanc works well, too.) Stir continuously.
Once the rice has soaked up all of the wine, you’ll start adding the vegetable broth. Add one large ladle of broth and stir in to fully incorporate. Stir often until all broth has been absorbed, then add another ladle of broth. Continue to do this until all of the broth has been used. This is a long process. You can’t rush it. If you do, the rice will have too much bite to it. Give the risotto the time it needs to be creamy – it’s worth the wait!
Turn heat to low. Add two tablespoons of butter to the risotto. Sprinkle some ground cinnamon and dried sage and stir in.
When the squash is done roasting, remove it from the oven. Put half on a cutting board or plate and mash with a potato masher. Set the other half aside.
Finely shred about a cup of Parmesan cheese.
Add the mashed squash to the risotto and mix well. Add 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese and stir. Stir in the remaining squash. Season with salt and pepper, if necessary, to taste.
Scoop 1/4 of the risotto into a pasta bowl and top with some of the extra Parmesan cheese.