Easy Butternut Squash Risotto

6 servings
1 hr 30 min

There’s nothing quite like delicious, creamy risotto. This Gluten-Free Butternut Squash Risotto recipe is a crowd pleaser and a must-make for fall!

The Best Fall Dinner

If you ask me, fall is all about comfort food. When the temperatures start to drop, it’s time for soups, pastas, risottos, and stews. And of course, one of the best aspects of autumn is the ability to use produce like squash! During fall, I take full advantage of squash season and incorporate it into my meals as much as possible. One of my favorite ways to use squash is in this Butternut Squash Risotto!

Most likely, you’re familiar with butternut squash. Whether you’ve had butternut squash soup or added this sweet veggie to your salads, it’s hard to avoid (or resist) this fall favorite. But, have you ever had butternut squash risotto? This risotto is infused with sweet, nutty flavors of butternut squash. Paired with mushrooms sautéed in a butter-wine sauce and fresh parsley, this recipe is the epitome of fall. All you need to complete the dish is a nice glass of white wine!

Garnished with fresh parsley and grated parmesan, this risotto is decadent while still being light.

The Butternut Squash

While I say that I love all winter squashes equally, my true favorite is butternut squash. If you don’t believe me just search ‘butternut squash’ in my recipes! You’ll see a number of different recipes utilizing the sweet squash. This recipe is by far my favorite way to cook butternut squash.

As this risotto is based around the squash, we first need to discuss the preparation. Butternut squash has a beautiful flavor profile. While not quite as sweet as delicate squash or as nutty as acorn squash, it has the perfect balance of the two. As this squash has a naturally nutty aroma, I like to keep the preparation and cooking process as simple as possible. This allows those natural flavors to really shine through!

First, start by slicing your butternut squash in half, length-wise. If you have trouble getting the knife all the way through, I would recommend the microwave method. Simply, poke holes as deep as possible down the sides that you wish to cut through. Then, microwave the squash for about three minutes. The holes will allow the squash to slightly steam, making it easier to cut. Once cut, remove any seeds and use a vegetable peeler to discard the skin. The skin is edible, but we will be pureeing the squash and don’t need the thickness of the skin in the puree.

Next, dice the clean butternut squash into bite-size cubes. Add them to a bowl with a touch of olive oil, maple syrup, rosemary, salt and pepper. Toss the squash to evenly coat each cube before spreading over a prepared baking sheet. Bake the squash at 350 degrees for roughly 30 minutes. Once cooked, immediately add the cooked veggie to a food processor. You want to do this while it’s still hot because the steam will be trapped in the processor and help it puree more smoothly. Pulse on high for a max of two minutes before setting to the side.

While risotto gets a bad rep of being complicated, it just takes time and patience.

How to Make the Perfect Risotto

If you’ve checked out my blog before, then you know how I feel about risottos. And if you haven’t, then let’s just say obsessed is an understatement. Risotto is one of my favorite dishes to make! Not only is it inherently gluten-free but it’s also so easy to customize and utilize throughout every season. Arborio rice is the perfect vessel to deliver a decadent dish. All it takes is time, patience and more time.

All good risottos start with the base. The typical base includes: butter/ olive oil, shallots, garlic and wine. First, start by adding a few tablespoons of unsalted butter to a Dutch oven. Melt the butter over medium-low heat before adding your shallot. While you can use a sweet onion, I prefer shallots in risotto recipes as they have the same aroma without the punch that onions tend to pack. Sauté the minced shallot in the melted butter for two minutes before adding the diced garlic. This step is important because if you add the garlic with the shallot, it’ll burn. Add the garlic with three sage leaves and cook down for another two minutes. Sage leaves are such a great addition during autumn! Their nutty aroma pairs beautifully with butternut squash; plus, a little goes a long ways.

Next up is the wine. All you need is one fourth cup of a dry white wine to deglaze the pan. Deglazing the pan essentially removes any “burnt bits” and imparts so much delicious flavor! Once you add the wine, it should be a light brown color. Stir over low heat for two minutes, then remove the sage leaves and add the arborio rice. Toast the rice for a few minutes until all liquid has been absorbed. Now, this next step is the most important part when it comes to making the perfect risotto…

When you add the vegetable broth to the risotto, make sure you only add a half cup at a time and the broth must be warm! It doesn’t need to scolding- simply warm it up by setting it in the microwave for thirty seconds. I know it’ll seem tedious to add a half cup of a time, but I promise it’ll pay off. Going slow and steady with risotto is key; as is stirring continuously. From the moment you add the broth, you need to continue to stir. This will allow the rice to best absorb the liquid. Repeat this process for three and a half cups of vegetable broth. And remember to be patient!

Risotto doesn’t have to be for a special occasion! It’s great for any occasion, from a casual night in to a date night at home.

Putting It All Together

Now that the rice has absorbed all the liquid and is fluffy, it’s time to add the butternut squash puree! Use a spatula to pour the puree into the risotto rice. Slowly fold in the puree and watch the risotto turn from a golden brown to a vibrant orange! Continue to stir in the butternut squash into the risotto rice until completely smooth. Then, remove the risotto from heat and stir in the grated parmesan cheese and pepper.

The Mushrooms

The final piece to this recipe is the mushrooms sautéed in a butter-wine sauce. If you’re not a mushroom lover, you can forgo or add pancetta instead. That being said, I highly recommend adding these mushrooms. Their umami flavor brings the whole recipe together. And if you don’t like mushrooms, I promise that there are few things that a butter-wine sauce can’t fix.

Have you ever heard of Shimeji mushrooms? Well, up until I was researching & recipe testing for this dish- neither had I! They’re not a common type of mushrooms you typically see at the grocery store like button, cremini, or even oyster mushrooms. But they are there! Shimeji mushrooms have a high concentration of amino acids; which, gives them their signature umami flavor. Umami is one of the five “basic” tastes and is characteristics of broths, cooked meats, and mushrooms. It’s associated most often with Asian cooking and can best be described as “savory”. The Shimeji mushrooms have an umami flavor that is both savory and nutty. This flavor profile pairs beautifully with our butternut squash risotto!

Pair this dish with a dry white wine for the perfect dinner!

Finishing the Dish

So, how do you prepare these mushrooms? Unlike some mushrooms, they require little cleaning beyond washing and patting dry with a paper towel. Add a few tablespoons of butter to a large pan and allow it to melt over medium heat. One of the most important aspects when it comes to cooking mushrooms is making sure you don’t overcrowd the pan when cooking. Even if you think your pan is too big, use that instead of a smaller pan that will overcrowd the mushrooms.

Once the butter is melted, add the Shimeji mushrooms and cook over medium heat for about five minutes. Then, deglaze the pan with a bit of a dry white wine. Like the risotto, this will allow you to scrap off the “burnt bits” from the pan. But remember, don’t discard of them as they are full of flavor! As the wine cooks down, season the mushrooms with dried thyme, pepper and salt. Much like the butternut squash, we aren’t going to season the mushrooms too much as we want that natural umami flavor to be present.

These mushrooms take less than ten minutes to cook. They don’t need to be completely wilted because a little crunch will add texture to the risotto. Cook the mushrooms until they have slightly wilted and browned. Then, remove from heat and garnish with freshly chopped parsley. Parsley, butter, and wine is the ultimate pairing! Finally, serve these mushrooms over the butternut squash risotto and enjoy!

Easy Butternut Squash Risotto
Recipe details
  • 6  servings
  • Prep time: 30 Minutes Cook time: 60 Minutes Total time: 1 hr 30 min
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For the Butternut Squash
  • 1/2 butternut squash, peeled and cleaned
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the Risotto
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 3 sage leaves
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 1/4 cup arborio rice
  • 3 1/2 cups of vegetable broth, warm
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
For the Mushrooms
  • 1 cup Shimeji mushrooms, cleaned
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 3/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley for garnish

For the Butternut Squash
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil
Slice the butternut squash in half and set one half to the side
Peel the skin and remove the seeds of half the butternut squash, then dice into cubes
Add to a bowl and season with olive oil, dried rosemary, maple syrup, pepper and salt
Toss in the bowl, then spread across the baking sheet
Cook for 30 minutes, then add directly to the food processor
Pulse on high for one to two minutes until smooth
For the Risotto
Add the butter to a Dutch oven and melt over medium-low heat
Once melted, add the minced shallot and stir for two minutes
Then, add the diced garlic and sage leaves
Cook down for two to three minutes
Add the wine and deglaze the pot by scraping the bottom
Stir over medium heat for another minute before removing the sage leaves
Pour in the arborio rice and stir to toast the rice and absorb any liquid
After two minutes, reduce the heat to low and add half a cup of warm vegetable broth
Continuously stir for three to five minutes over low heat until all the broth has been absorbed
Repeat this process, one half cup of vegetable broth at a time, until you’ve used all the broth
Then, pour in the pureed butternut squash
Stir to combine the puree with the fluffy arborio rice
Once combined and a beautiful orange color, add the parmesan cheese and pepper
Remove from heat and stir in the cheese
For the Mushrooms
Add the butter to a large pan and melt over medium heat
Once melted, add the mushrooms
Cook over medium heat for three minutes, stirring occasionally
Then, add the wine and deglaze the pan
Add the thyme, pepper, and salt to the mushrooms
Continue to cook for another minutes until slightly wilted and brown
Garnish with chopped parsley and serve over the butternut squash risotto
  • If the risotto cools and begins to look dry, stir in one fourth cup of vegetable broth and add two tablespoons of room temperature unsalted butter
Arianna Litrenta
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