Some of the recipes I've developed come from actual restaurant experiences, remember those? Butternut squash risotto is one of them. I was in Brooklyn, NY visiting a friend years ago and we went out to dinner - as we always did when I visited. I ordered one of the nightly specials which was butternut squash risotto. An odd choice for me, but I wanted to try something completely different. This turned out to be the best butternut squash risotto I ever ate.
The Quest to Make Amazing Butternut Squash Risotto
What was stunning about the Brooklyn risotto was the richness of flavor and complexity of the dish. That risotto would come to mind from time to time over the years as I would remember the surprising richness. I wondered why we're not making and eating more risotto in life. I eventually succumbed to the memory and decided I had to figure out an equally delicious risotto recipe.
And so I embarked on a journey to make a fantastic butternut squash risotto. I tinkered with this recipe over what feels like years. Two cups of risotto doesn't seem like much, but when you add an entire butternut squash to the recipe it gets big - real quick. When I made it there was a ton of it. In the first iterations I used chicken broth, but I had a vegetarian friend at the time and wanted to share this with her. Thus the switch to vegetable broth. Good quality vegetable broth.
Did You Ever Notice How Risotto Doesn't Taste Like Anything?
Here's the thing about risotto: it's bland. There is no flavor. So we have to add the flavor and make it taste like something. We must create a flavor base for this risotto. At some point, I decided to try leeks as the onion for this and I hit the jackpot. I've become slightly obsessed with leeks in recent years and highly recommend you start using them more in your cooking. Fresh herbs are crucial to this flavor profile and sage + thyme = winning combination. Fresh sage and thyme pair very well with leeks and butternut squash.
Through various testings over the years, it started coming together and resulted in the recipe I'm sharing with you now. It's creamy, and butternut squashy with the leeks, herbs, parmesan, and mascarpone adding beautiful layers of flavors.
The great thing about this risotto is you can eat it as the main dish (perfect for vegetarians) or serve it as a side with Italian sausage and steamed asparagus like I did here. This risotto is a true gourmet and should be shared with your loved ones. I understand that the standing and stirring can be a deterrent to making risotto, but I promise it is worth that little bit of extra effort. And bonus: this reheats very well in the microwave for an excellent lunch option for a couple of days.
Looking for More Squashy Recipes? I Understand:
- Savory Puff Pastry w/Butternut Squash & Goat Cheese
- Roasted Delicata Squash w/Sausage Stuffing
- Zucchini Boats w/Garlic Tomatoes and Basil
- Grilled Zucchini & Summer Squash w/Romesco Sauce
- Savory Butternut Squash Sauté
- Zucchini & Summer Squash Gratin
- Roasted Veggie Tart w/Leeks & Goat Cheese