This creamy, luxurious butternut squash risotto will drive you crazy. Leeks, sage, thyme, parmesan and marscapone add layers of flavor. Great for the main or side dish!
For cooking butternut squash:
- 1 medium butternut squash, cubed
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon of pepper
For cooking leeks:
- 1 leek (white and light green part only)
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- 1 teaspoon of olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon fresh sage (add at end)
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme (add at end)
For cooking the risotto:
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- 2 cups Arborio rice
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 5-6 cups of good quality vegetable broth
Mixing the cooked risotto
- cooked risotto
- 1 8 ounce container of mascarpone cheese
- ½ cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
- butternut squash, leeks and herbs
- Cut butternut squash into thick strips and then into cubes. Put them in a pan.
- Cut the dark green part of the leek off and discard. We’re only using the white and light green part here. Cut the root part off the end and cut the leek into small rings as seen in the video. Leeks are very dirty so submerge the leek rings in a bowl of water and push them down – removing the dirt and separating the rings. Then drain the water, rinse once more, put in a bowl and set aside.
- Chop the sage and thyme into small pieces and set aside.
- You’ll need two pans for this. Your butternut squash cubes should be in a large pan. Heat should be medium to start. Add olive oil, salt and pepper. Stir the squash around the pan to make sure it’s coated in the olive oil. Put a lid on it (preferably one with no vent holes), turn the heat to low-medium. Let is steam for 20-30 minutes until it’s very soft. Stir occasionally.
- In your other smaller pan, heat the butter and olive oil, then add the leeks, salt and pepper. Give it a stir around. Should be low to medium heat. Cook for about 10 minutes or so until leeks shrink in size and are lightly browned. After the leeks are browned (see video), add the fresh sage and thyme. Stir together until fragrant – about a minute or two.
- Once your butternut squash is finished cooking, add the leeks and herbs and give it a stir around. The butternut squash should be fall-apart tender which will be perfect for when we mix it together with the Arborio rice. Set this aside while you cook the rice.
- If you are cooking Italian sausage and steaming asparagus with this, you should plan your time and start cooking your sausage now and turn on the asparagus toward the end of the risotto cooking. If you’re not doing this – skip this step!
- On low heat, melt two tablespoons of butter in a pot. Add two cups of Arborio rice to the butter. Mix the rice around with the butter until the rice becomes slightly white on the outside and smells toasty and nutty. About 3-4 minutes.
- Still on low heat, start adding the vegetable broth 1 cup at a time. Once you add the first cup of broth, you should stir the risotto continuously until the broth is completely absorbed into the rice. I usually add the salt after the first or second cup of broth. Then add the next cup of broth and do the same. Stir the rice until all the broth has absorbed before adding the next cup of broth. Repeat the process for all 5 cups of broth. Cannot stress this enough – do not add all the liquid at once. Risotto is cooked in an open pot, slowly, over about 35-40 minutes. (see notes below and refer to the video which goes through this step by step)
Mixing the cooked risotto:
- Once risotto is finished cooking, put it in a large bowl. Add the marscapone cheese to risotto and mix together blending the cheese into the risotto.
- Grate fresh parmesan cheese onto the risotto – give it a mix.
- Add the butternut squash, leeks, sage, thyme mixture to the risotto bowl and mix thoroughly. I like to mash down most of the chunks of squash and leave some for texture. This is a personal choice. If you want a chunkier risotto – go for it!
Once risotto is mixed – serve immediately. I paired mine with Italian sausage and steamed asparagus.
- For the vegetable broth, I use Pacific Organic Vegetable Broth. You can use the regular or low sodium if you can find it.
- Risotto requires a little patience and the ability to daydream while you stir the rice for 40 minutes. If you’re not a patient daydreamer, risotto might not be the dish for you.
- But seriously, one cup of broth at a time until the risotto is cooked tender. A lot of risotto instructions on the internet say 2 cups of Arborio to 6 cups of broth. I made this risotto with 5 cups of broth and the risotto was tender at 35-40 minutes. I felt it was unnecessary to add the 6th cup. But everyone’s stovetop is different. Gas, electric, low heat – they can all mean slightly different things depending on your stove. If you need the 6th cup – go for it!
- I know that some people warm the broth before adding to the risotto so they don’t “shock” the rice. I’ve never done this and my risotto comes out great. If you want to warm it go ahead. Either way is fine.
- Timing: after you cook the butternut squash and add the leeks, sage, thyme it will sit in the pan while you cook the Arborio rice for 35-40 minutes. Near the end of cooking the rice, I did put the heat back on the butternut squash to get it hot again instead of just warm-to-room temperature. It just took a few minutes.