Butternut Squash Risotto / by Anne

Squash, Saffron Threads, & Arborio Rice


This recipe is a vegetarian modification of The Barefoot Contessa's Butternut Squash Risotto recipe.  If you wish to revel in your omnivorousness, use chicken stock and also add a bit of pancetta or bacon to sauté with the shallots.  I'm sharing this recipe as step 1 to making butternut squash arancini (risotto fritters), but the risotto is delicious as its own dish.  I'll add the fritter-y step tomorrow. 

This dish would taste lovely in a dinner that includes a light spinach salad, braised leeks, grilled shrimp, and/or many kinds of pork dishes.  Also, if you like sage, it would taste delicious in this risotto or in an accompanying dish as well. 

Butternut Squash Risotto


  • 6 cups of peeled, seeded, and cubed (3/4 inch) butternut squash
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pinch saffron threads
  • 6 to 8 cups vegetable stock, preferably homemade (chicken stock is also good)
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter  
  • 1/2 cup minced shallots (2 large)
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice (10 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • ½ tsp marjoram, crushed with your fingers or a mortar and pestle.
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Toss squash on a cookie sheet with the olive oil and 1 tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper. Roast in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until tender. Do not let the squash dry out.  Set aside.
  3. Heat the stock on the back burner over low heat.  Keep warm during the risotto cooking process.
  4. Put 1 tsp. salt and the saffron threads into a mortar and pestle or a small bowl with a spoon.  Crush the saffron into the salt until the threads have been finely broken up.
  5.  Melt the butter over medium-low heat in a heavy-bottomed pot. Sauté the shallots just until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the rice, stirring to incorporate the grains with the butter and shallots. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes. Add 2 cups of stock to the rice, plus the saffron and salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir, and simmer until the stock is absorbed, which should take about 5 to 10 minutes. Stir every few minutes.
  6. Continue to add the stock, 2 cups at a time, continuing to stir periodically. With each addition, cook until the mixture has lost its liquid, then add more stock. Continue until the rice is cooked through, but still al dente, about 30 minutes total. You may not use all of the stock. Stir in the margoram and remove pot from heat.  Stir in the squash cubes, and with the bottom of a flat glass or cup, mash some of the squash into the risotto a few times.  Stir in the Parmigiano-Reggiano and serve.

Makes 6 to 8 servings