Butternut Squash Risotto

With the seasons quickly changing, the recipes in the kitchen do as well.  Squash is so delicious and versatile.  There are so many varieties, and I love every squash I’ve encountered.  Butternut is always a family fav, but a lot of people can be overwhelmed by squash.  There are perceptions that squash is very difficult to cook…NOT TRUE.

If you have never cooked with squash, please try!  For beginners….try an acorn squash.  Prick the skin randomly with a fork. Cut it in half and scrape out the seeds. Put a little bit of butter and brown sugar (plus a little salt) inside both halves and place on a microwave safe plate.  Microwave for 10 minutes….Enjoy!  I eat that delicious meal with a spoon.  It is already in a perfectly shaped bowl!

I’m going to admit I have never made risotto before.  It was more labor intensive than I thought, but totally worth it.  Looking back on it, it did go by pretty fast.  I hope to try several risotto dishes over the winter because they are so warm and comforting.

Materials:

  • 3 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash, divided (This ended up being 1/2 of a large squash)
  • 3 1/2 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups uncooked Arborio rice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (I didn’t use this…I’ve never been a fan)
  • 5 ounces applewood-smoked bacon, cooked and crumbled (I used smoked bacon from a butcher that smokes it themselves…..totally worth it)
  • I also used Parmesan cheese as a topping

Procedure:

Make sure you organize your work station before attempting a dish that provides your constant attention. Combine 2 cups squash and 2 1/2 cups water in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat; let stand 5 minutes. Place mixture in a food processor (I used my immersion blender). Process until smooth. Return mixture to pan. Stir in broth; bring to a simmer. Reserve 1/4 cup squash mixture. Keep pan warm over low heat.

I made sure the broth I would be adding was right next to my dutch oven.

All my ingredients are ready for me use when I need them.

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add rice; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Stir in remaining 1 cup squash, 2 1/2 cups squash mixture, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Cook 2 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly.

This is what it looks like when you first add the liquid.

This is what it looks like after you stir it for a couple of minutes.

Add remaining squash mixture, 1 cup at a time, stirring until each cup is absorbed before adding the next (about 20 minutes). Remove from heat; stir in reserved 1/4 cup squash mixture. Top with parsley and bacon and Parmesan cheese. (I had a dish of bacon on the side)Printable Recipe

Observations: Once you star the risotto, it needs your constant attention.  This might seem strenuous, however I found it kind of entertaining.  It was neat to see how the rice absorbed the liquid so quickly.  I was worried about the chunks of squash cooking in time, but they turned out perfect.

Analysis: As I tasted the risotto, I realized it needed something.  I tried adding a little more salt, but it was only giving it a mildly saltier taste.  I was extremely worried because we had my parents over for dinner.  I didn’t want the entire dish to be ruined. However, one you added the smoky bacon, the flavor completely changed.  I also felt it needed the sharp flavor of cheese.  I retrieved some fresh Parmesan cheese and grated it over my risotto.  What a difference! Personally, I do not think the risotto stands well on its own.  This dish needs the bacon and cheese…most meals do :o)  I will definitely be making this again.

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9 responses

  1. This is your first risotto? It turned out great. I love making risotto and wish more people would take the plunge. I need to try it with pumpkin again. It’s been so long since I tried, but mine was in the fail category. This is definitely an unqualified success.

  2. Just happily connected to your site via Greg’s.

    I love experimenting with risotto, but haven’t gone done the pumpkin path as of yet. Looks like your turned out brilliantly, especially with the bacon.

    Also I like your taste in Le Creuset pots…my wife and I have the same color. 🙂

    cheers!

  3. Sarah!!! This is fantastic!!!! I fried up some pancetta because i didn’t have any bacon..but I always have some type of pork product ready for frying…and I agree that everything is better with bacon!!! Next time Becky and I cook for a party I am going to give you a call…thanks again!!!
    Love ya, Aunt Laura

  4. I’m SO going to make this because it combines two things I really love: risotto and butternut squash 🙂 The bacon sound great as a topper!

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