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Butternut Squash Risotto with Sugared Walnuts – A delicious seasonal dish loaded with butternut squash, thyme and creamy Arborio rice. Perfect as a hearty side or filling enough for a main dish.
Originally published October 6, 2014 – recipe and photos updated January, 2018
Celebrating a blog-iversary may seem silly to some. But after 4 years of raising this baby, I can tell you I’m all about being silly! Blogs are a commitment that require an investment of time, resources, creativity and dedication. Blogging can overpower all your free time if you let it but it can also be one of the most rewarding adventures you undertake. You may learn a lot about yourself and make wonderful new friends but never get the chance to meet them all. I love SRFD. But putting yourself out there can be scary sometimes. I think I’ve found my happy balance and have no plans to quit any time soon. My culinary bucket list is still a mile long!
One of those bucket list recipes has been to make Risotto. I’ve drooled over many recipes through the years and watched contestants on Chopped try to make risotto in 20 minutes, or less. With this recipe it takes 20 minutes just to stir in the broth and wine by adding 1/2 cup at a time and waiting until the liquid is nearly absorbed before adding another. This risotto is not difficult and worth every minute spent loving the rice into a creamy and flavorful treat. With a little prep work you’ll be on your way.
We still have fresh herbs in the garden and butternut squash is easily found at the farmer’s market and grocery store. Sometimes you can find butternut squash already peeled and cubed, so this would save you a little time.
Cut the squash into 1/2 inch cubes. Drizzle with olive oil and bake until lightly caramelized and crisp on one side. Toast coarsely chopped walnuts then drizzle with butter and brown sugar and set aside. Saute chopped onion until tender then add the rice, wine and vegetable broth. Stir in the squash, fresh thyme, lemon zest and season with salt and pepper. Serve topped with walnuts and grated Parmesan if desired.
The original recipe from Cooking Light called for pancetta. We left out the cured meat, skipped the cheese and instead of butter used Earth Balance for a vegan dish. These small changes make this dish perfect for those looking for a meatless Monday meal. It’s filling and delicious!
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Butternut Squash Risotto with Sugared Walnuts
- ½ cup rough chopped walnuts
- 1 tablespoon butter or Earth Balance, melted
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pinch of salt
- 2 cups ½ inch cubed, peeled, butternut squash
- 1 tablespoon olive oil plus 1 teaspoon
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
- ½ cup water
- 1 cup finely chopped onion
- 1 ½ cups uncooked Arborio rice
- ½ cup chardonnay
- 1 ½ tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Place the walnuts on a baking sheet and bake for 2-3 minutes. Watch the nuts closely as they burn easily. Combine the brown sugar and ¼ teaspoon pepper, and a pinch of salt. Remove the nuts to a small bowl and drizzle with melted butter. Sprinkle the nuts with the brown sugar pepper mixture and toss to coat. Set aside.
- Toss the squash with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Arrange the squash in a single layer on a jelly roll pan and bake for 20 minutes or until the squash is tender and lightly browned/caramelized on the bottom. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- In a medium saucepan, bring the 4 cups of vegetable broth and ½ cup of water to a simmer. Do not boil but keep warm on low heat.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil and add the diced onion. Saute the onion for about 3 minutes or until just tender.
- Add the minced garlic and saute for 30 seconds.
- Add the uncooked rice and cook for 2 minutes stirring constantly.
- Add the wine, stir constantly and cook for 1 minute or until the liquid is nearly absorbed.
- Add the broth ½ cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of liquid is nearly absorbed before adding the next. This will take 20 minutes total.
- Stir in the squash, thyme, lemon zest salt and pepper.
- Top with walnuts and serve immediately.
- Adapted from Cooking Light, October 2010
Butternut is one of my favorite squashes and I love it in soups, casseroles, side dishes or just roasted in the oven. If you’re a fan like me, you will probably love our fabulous Butternut Squash and Red Lentil Soup (Shorabit Jarjir) and this outstanding Butternut Squash and Kale Strata. This Roasted Butternut Squash with Red Onions, Tahini and Za’atar is absolutely one of favorite ways to enjoy this pretty squash. And don’t miss this Savory Winter Vegetable Cobbler loaded with butternut squash – so, so good!
For a simple side, I want to try this Cinnamon Roasted Butternut Squash with Maple and Rosemary from Well Plated. I love this wonderful Beef Stew with Butternut Squash (Instant Pot or Slow Cooker) from Foodie Crush. And finally, check out this gorgeous Maple Pecan Hasselback Butternut Squash from Seasons and Suppers for a stunning addition to your table!
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