Butternut Squash Risotto (Risotto alla Zucca)

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There was a butternut squash in my pantry that needed to be used. The best Italian recipes are always the simplest, and so I decided to use the squash to make risotto with no other ingredients except the squash and the “usual suspects” for risotto: rice, stock, onion, white wine, butter, parmigiano, salt and pepper. The same recipe also applies to pumpkin. I do not like peeling pumpkin or squash, because the skin is very tough, which makes it easy for the knife to slip and cut yourself. So I like to bake pumpkin or squash in the oven until tender, so you can simply scoop out the flesh with a spoon. This risotto is simple but nice, and really brings out the flavor of the squash. Here is what I did…

Ingredients

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For 2 servings

1/2 butternut squash, which will yield about 250 grams (1 cup) squash puree

130 grams (2/3 cups) risotto rice, such as carnaroli

1 small onion, minced

2 Tbsp olive oil (or butter)

750 ml (3 cups) vegetable stock

1 Tbsp butter

30 grams (1 oz) freshly grated parmigiano reggiano

60 ml (1/4 cup) dry white wine

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

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Preheat the oven to 190C/375F (fan forced). In the mean time, cut the squash in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds with a spoon.

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Bake the squash on a baking sheet with 120 ml (1/2 cup) of water in the oven at 190C/375F until tender, about 45 minutes. Then take it out of the oven to cool.

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Start with the risotto while the squash is cooling. Heat up 750 ml (3 cups) of vegetable stock in a saucepan and keep it simmering. Heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil (or butter) in a wide thick-bottomed pan, and add a small minced onion.

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Cook over low heat, stirring regularly, until the onion is slightly golden, about 10 minutes.

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Raise the heat to medium and add 130 grams of risotto rice.

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Toast the rice over medium heat until it is very hot and the edges become translucent, about 2 minutes.

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Add 60 ml (1/4 cup) of dry white wine.

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Stir over medium heat until the wine has evaporated.

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Add a ladle of hot vegetable stock.

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Stir until the stock has been absorbed by the rice. When that happens, add another ladle of stock and keep stirring.

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When the squash is cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh with a spoon. Discard the skin.

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Mince the squash flesh to obtain a puree.

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Add 250 grams (1 cup) of the squash puree to the risotto. (Reserve the remaining squash puree for another use.)

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Stir the squash puree through the rice. Keep adding stock and keep stirring until the rice is cooked al dente, about 16-18 minutes of total cooking time.

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Taste whether the rice is al dente: it should still have a nice bite to it, but not a tough kernel.

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When the rice is cooked to your liking, turn off the heat and add a final ladle of hot vegetable stock.

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Add 30 grams of freshly grated parmigiano, as well as a tablespoon of butter, cut into small pieces.

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Stir to incorporate. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Allow the risotto to rest like this for a couple of minutes. The final process of adding butter, parmigiano, and allowing the risotto to rest is called mantecare. It will give the risotto its creamy texture.

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Serve the risotto on preheated plates, garnished with a bit more freshly grated parmigiano.

Flashback

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Burrata is a fresh cheese from the Italian region of Puglia that is like a creamy version of mozzarella. Orecchiette with spinach, burrata, lemon, and spinach is a great way to enjoy it.

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15 thoughts on “Butternut Squash Risotto (Risotto alla Zucca)

  1. Unlike you I do peel my butternut squash and cut it into cubes which I cook with the rice to get a similar result. I love the taste of this risotto which is slightly sweet. Since it’ not really season for squash I made mushroom risotto today with fresh chanterelles 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. One of my favourite risottos! OK: I can usually only get arborio and I do call the ‘squash’ a ‘pumpkin’ but what is that twixt friends 🙂 ! The ‘mantecare’ idea I have to adopt as the time factor sometimes does work to one’s detriment!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Arborio is fine too, it is just slightly more difficult to get it exactly right than carnaroli, which has a larger “window” between undercooked and overcooked.
      In Dutch, a butternut squash is called “bottle pumpkin”, and also in Italian both are called “zucca”.

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  3. This is my go-to recipe for butternut squash, I make it whenever there’s one around!
    Often I first quickly fry some pork belly dices, remove, and slowly cook the onion in the pork’s fat. I add the meat back at the end before serving.

    Most times I also cook risotto just in the pressure cooker rather than with the traditional method. Apart from being faster and hassle-free, I find the results also more consistent. Did you try that? Did you ever make a comparison of the results?

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    • Ciao Matteo, thanks for commenting. I have tried making risotto in the pressure cooker, but I have not tried a side-by-side comparison yet. I have also tried it sous-vide and without stirring, but again no side-by-side yet. I keep making risotto the traditional way because I think I like the consistency better. To make sure, I would like to do a side-by-side comparison to figure this out once and for all.

      I like your addition of pancetta.

      Like

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