Butternut Squash and Pumpkin Risotto is comfort food in a bowl, the perfect recipe for fall. Just keep stirring. You’ll be amply rewarded!
Butternut Squash and Pumpkin Risotto is one of those dishes that screams cooler weather and that’s for a couple of reasons. One, the squash and pumpkin are favorite fall flavors. The other reason is the cooking technique. To make risotto, you’ll be standing over a hot pot stirring, for a while. This is not an August job.
Making risotto is not difficult, it just needs a watchful eye. The butternut squash is sautéed in butter and olive oil and then added to the cooked arborio rice just before serving. The trick here is to brown the diced squash but not to cook it so long that it falls apart. You want firm pieces stirred into the rice. When the squash is just tender, remove it to a plate and spread it out. It will cool a bit, but the cooking will slow. If you put it in a bowl, the squash will steam more and get mushy.
The pumpkin part of the dish is pure pumpkin from a can. It is mixed into the melange with the cream and Parmesan cheese. The pumpkin adds color and more flavor. A bit of turmeric deepens the yellow hue.
The primary challenge with making risotto, and I don’t think it’s all that difficult, it to keep stirring. Add one cup of hot broth at a time and stir the rice until the liquid is absorbed. And keep at it until the rice is just tender. The cream (or half-and-half) and cheese at the end, makes the mixture creamy.
The recipe serves plenty but risotto is a good leftover dish. Take a container for lunch or serve it up for dinner on a second night. No one will mind.
- 1/2 butternut squash peeled, seeded and diced
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Black pepper to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon ground sage
- 1 small onion diced
- 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
- 6 cups approximately vegetable or low-sodium chicken broth
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/4 cup heavy cream or half-and-half
- 1/4 cup canned pure pumpkin NOT pumpkin pie filling
- 1/2 cup Parmesan shavings more for serving
- Minced parsley for serving
Heat 1 tablespoon butter and olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add squash and sprinkle with salt, pepper and sage. Cook for several minutes, turning gently with a spatula, until squash is deep golden brown and tender (but not falling apart.) Remove to a plate and set aside.
Heat broth in a saucepan over low heat. Keep warm.
Add 2 tablespoons butter to the same skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until translucent. Add Arborio rice and stir, cooking for 1 minute.
Reduce heat to low. In 1-cup increments, begin adding broth to the skillet, stirring to combine and gently stirring as the broth is absorbed. As soon as the liquid disappears, add in another cup to cup-and-a-half of broth. Continue this process, stirring gently as the broth incorporates and the rice starts to become tender. Add salt and pepper along the way.
Taste the rice after about 5 cups of broth have been absorbed and see what the consistency is. Add another 1 to 2 cups of broth as needed to get the rice to the right consistency: it should be tender with just a little bit of "bite" left to it.
When the rice is tender, add in the cooked squash and turmeric and stir it in gently. Add the cream, pumpkin and Parmesan shavings and stir until it's just combined. Taste and add more salt and pepper as needed.
Sprinkle minced parsley over the top and serve.
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